View Full Version : 1/30/2012 -- Nuclear plant vents RADIOACTIVE steam onto DOWNTOWN CHICAGO

01-31-2012, 07:40 AM

Officials investigating Illinois reactor shutdown

CHICAGO (AP) — Officials are investigating the events surrounding a power failure at a nuclear reactor in northern Illinois, but believe they may have traced the cause to a piece of equipment at a switchyard dozens of miles away.

After the shutdown Monday morning at Exelon Nuclear's Byron Generating Station, operators began releasing steam to cool the reactor from the part of the plant where turbines produce electricity, not from within the nuclear reactor itself, officials said. The steam contains low levels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, but federal and plant officials insisted the levels were safe for workers and the public.

Exelon Nuclear officials believe a failed piece of equipment at a switchyard at the plant about 95 miles northwest of Chicago caused the shutdown, but they were still investigating an exact cause. The switchyard is similar to a large substation that delivers power to the plant from the electrical grid and from the plant to the electrical grid.

Diesel generators were supplying the reactor with electricity, though it hasn't been generating power during the investigation into what happened. One question is why smoke was seen from an onsite station transformer, though no evidence of a fire was found when the plant's fire brigade responded, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said.

The commission declared the incident an "unusual event," the lowest of four levels of emergency. Commission officials also said the release of tritium was expected.

Mitlyng said officials can't yet calculate how much tritium was released. They know the amounts were small because monitors around the plant didn't show increased levels of radiation, she said.

Tritium molecules are so microscopic that small amounts are able to pass from radioactive steam that originates in the reactor through tubing and into the water used to cool turbines and other equipment outside the reactor, Mitlyng said. The steam that was being released was coming from the turbine side.

Tritium is relatively short-lived and penetrates the body weakly through the air compared to other radioactive contaminants.

Releasing steam helps "take away some of that energy still being produced by nuclear reaction but that doesn't have anywhere to go now," Mitlyng said. Even though the turbine is not turning to produce electricity, she said, "you still need to cool the equipment."

Candace Humphrey, Ogle County's emergency management coordinator, said county officials were notified of the incident as soon as it happened and that public safety was never in danger.

"It was standard procedure that they would notify county officials," she said. "There is always concern. But, it never crossed my mind that there was any danger to the people of Ogle County."

Another reactor at the plant was operating normally.

In March 2008, federal officials said they were investigating a problem with electrical transformers at the plant after outside power to a unit was interrupted.

In an unrelated issue last April, the commission said it was conducting special inspections of backup water pumps at the Byron and Braidwood generating stations after the agency's inspectors raised concerns about whether the pumps would be able to cool the reactors if the normal system wasn't working. The plants' operator, Exelon Corp., initially said the pumps would work but later concluded they wouldn't.


01-31-2012, 12:38 PM
From the article:

Mitlyng said officials can't yet calculate how much tritium was released. They know the amounts were small because monitors around the plant didn't show increased levels of radiation, she said.

Tritium molecules are so microscopic that small amounts are able to pass from radioactive steam that originates in the reactor through tubing and into the water used to cool turbines and other equipment outside the reactor, Mitlyng said. The steam that was being released was coming from the turbine side.

Tritium is relatively short-lived and penetrates the body weakly through the air compared to other radioactive contaminants.

It also naturally occurs in the environment.

•Tritium is a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is produced in the atmosphere when cosmic rays collide with air molecules. As a result, tritium is found in very small or trace amounts in groundwater throughout the world. It is also a byproduct of the production of electricity by nuclear power plants. Tritium emits a weak form of radiation, a low-energy beta particle similar to an electron. The tritium radiation does not travel very far in air and cannot penetrate the skin.

01-31-2012, 01:38 PM
Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Federal regulators set a limit for how much tritium is allowed in drinking water. So far, federal and industry officials say, the tritium leaks pose no health threat.


01-31-2012, 01:45 PM
I have tritium on several gun sights... The danger of that substance is not my concern.
My issue with the Byron plan shutdown is that the media, or exelon, is not telling the truth.

01-31-2012, 02:03 PM
I have tritium on several gun sights... The danger of that substance is not my concern.
My issue with the Byron plan shutdown is that the media, or exelon, is not telling the truth.

I agree. We would expect no less from the 'officials' and sewer stream news! :mad:

01-31-2012, 02:56 PM

I guess we are all dead. http://www.oliviermagand.com/history-and-principles-of-radioactivity/the-atom-and-radioactivity/what-are-the-sources-of-natural-radioactivity/

The radioactivity of the human body is about 8400 Bq for a person weighing 70 kg. It mainly comes from radioactive elements present in the food we eat. Once ingested, the radionuclides are lodged in body tissues and bones. The human body has an average radioactivity of 4500 Bq from potassium-40 and 3700 Bq from carbon-14.

01-31-2012, 04:01 PM
OMG! Local officials refuse to distribute iodine tablets to school children in response to the emergency. TIC


01-31-2012, 04:07 PM
As a physicist, let me tell you that we are exposed to radiation every day. All forms of energy have radiation. The sun is radiation. Coal plants give off more radiation in a year than a nuclear power plant will its entire lifetime. But nuclear power plants are dangerous right??? Give me a break.

01-31-2012, 06:22 PM
Don't forget the radiation from your cell phones too!

01-31-2012, 06:52 PM
As a physicist, let me tell you that we are exposed to radiation every day. All forms of energy have radiation. The sun is radiation. Coal plants give off more radiation in a year than a nuclear power plant will its entire lifetime. But nuclear power plants are dangerous right??? Give me a break.

I understand. However, we are inundated with this stuff daily, in and out of our homes and businesses. What we need to do is try to help our bodies detox this inundation.

How to Detox Your Body of Depleted Uranium Residues, the Effects of Radiation, and Radioactive Contamination


It's sad but true that there are thousands of scientific references and medical studies out there on the fact that radiation and radioactivity can harm you, yet despite millions of dollars spent by the government to study radiation, virtually nothing is available about a detoxification diet or nutritional supplements you might use if you are exposed to radioactive contamination.

Here's some of the information we do know from the only book in the world on the topic. Keep this information in the back of your mind as it may one day help save you or someone you know.

Most people are aware taking potassium iodide (KI) or potassium iodate (KIO3) tablets will help block your thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine should there ever be a dirty bomb explosion or nuclear power plant mishap such as the Three Mile Island incident. In 1999, another such accident happened in Tokaimura, Japan where several individuals died from radiation exposure in a fuel processing facility.

What people don't recognize is that potassium iodide or iodate tablets only protect the thyroid gland and do not provide protection from any other radiation exposure, so taking them should not give you a false sense of security. It's important to detox your body after radioactive exposure!

One question is, what do you do if KI or KIO3 tablets aren't available during an emergency? Interestingly enough, according to research by Ken Miller, health physicist at the Hershey Medical Center, he found that an adult could get a blocking dose of stable iodine by painting 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm approximately 2 hours prior to I-131 contamination. Potassium iodine tablets are best, but if they're not available this is the next best thing.

An entirely different problem arises after you've been exposed to radioactive contamination because now you have to get rid of any radioactive particles you may have ingested through the air you breathed, water you drank, or food you ate. Some people suggest Epson salt, Clorox or clay baths to remove any residues on your skin and to leach out any heavy metals you may have absorbed, but the big worry is internal contamination. To gain some insights into what to do, we have to turn to the story of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

At the time of the atomic bombing, Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D. was Director of the Department of Internal Medicine at St. Francis's Hospital in Nagasaki and he fed his staff and patients a strict diet of brown rice, miso and tamari soy soup, wakame, kombu and other seaweed, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt. He also prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets since they suppress the immune system.

By imposing this diet on his staff and patients, no one succumbed to radiation poisoning whereas the occupants of hospitals located much further away from the blast incident suffered severe radiation fatalities.

Much of this positive result has to do with the fact that the sea vegetables contain substances that bind radioactive particles and escort them out of the body. This is why seaweed sales usually skyrocket after radiation disasters, and why various seaweeds and algae are typically used to treat radiation victims.

In Chernobyl, for instance, spirulina was used to help save many children from radiation poisoning. By taking 5 grams of spirulina a day for 45 days, the Institute of Radiation Medicine in Minsk even proved that children on this protocol experienced enhanced immune systems, T-cell counts and reduced radioactivity. Israeli scientists have since treated Chernobyl children with doses of natural beta carotene from Dunaliella algae and proved that it helped normalize their blood chemistry. Chlorella algae, a known immune system builder and heavy metal detoxifier, has also shown radioprotective effects. Because they bind heavy metals, algae should therefore be consumed after exposure to any type of radioactive contamination.

In 1968 a group of Canadian researchers at McGill University of Montreal, headed by Dr. Stanley Skoryna, actually set out to devise a method to counteract the effects of nuclear fallout. The key finding from their studies was that sea vegetables contained a polysaccharide substance, called sodium alginate, which selectively bound radioactive strontium and eliminated it from the body.

Sodium alginate is found in many seaweeds, especially kelp, and since that time the Russians have been seriously researching the use of their own kelps from Vladivlostok, from which they have isolated the polysaccharide U-Fucoidan, which is another radioactive detoxifier. Because miso soup was so effective in helping prevent radiation sickness, the Japanese have also done research identifying the presence of an active ingredient called zybicolin, discovered in 1972, which acts as a binding agent to also detoxify and eliminate radioactive elements (such as strontium) and other pollutants from the body.

The kelps and algaes aren't the only natural foods with radio-detoxifying effects. In terms of fluids to drink, black and green tea have shown "radioprotective effects" whether consumed either before or after exposure to radiation. This anti-radiation effect was observed in several Japanese studies, and studies from China also suggest that the ingredients in tea are radioactive antagonists.

In short, after any sort of radioactive exposure you want to be eating seaweeds and algaes along with almost any type of commercial heavy metal chelating formula to bind radioactive particles and help escort them out of the body. Whether you're worried about depleted uranium, plutonium or other isotopes, this is the wise thing to do which can possibly help, and certainly won't hurt. Many nutritional supplements have been developed for the purpose of detoxifying heavy metals, most of which contain the algaes and plant fibers and other binding substances.

Basically, an anti-radiation diet should focus on the following foods:

· Miso soup
· Spirulina, chlorella and the algaes (kelp, etc.)
· Brassica vegetables and high beta carotene vegetables
· Beans and lentils
· Potassium, calcium and mineral rich foods
· High nucleotide content foods to assist in cellular repair including spirulina, chlorella, algae, yeast, sardines, liver, anchovies and mackerel
· Cod liver oil and olive oil
· Avoid sugars and sweets and wheat
· A good multivitamin/multimineral supplement

Yet another benefit of the sea vegetables rarely discussed is their high mineral content, which is a bonus in the case of radioactive exposure. Consuming natural iodine, such as in the seaweeds, helps prevent the uptake of iodine-131 while iron inhibits the absorption of plutonium-238 and plutonium-239. Vitamin B-12 inhibits cobalt-60 uptake (used in nuclear medicine), zinc inhibits zinc-65 uptake and sulfur is preventative for sulfur-35 (a product of nuclear reactors) incorporation by the body.

Since nuclear workers are potentially exposed to radioactive sulfur, this means that workers in the atomic power industry need a higher content of sulfur in their diet. MSM supplements provide a source of dietary sulfur, but thiol supplements such as cysteine, lipoic acid and glutathione serve double-duty in this area because they help detoxify the body and attack all sorts of other health problems as well.

The immune system is usually hit hard after radiation exposure, and a number of steps can be taken to help prevent opportunistic infections after a radioactive incident. Though the full dimensions of the protective mechanism is still unknown, Siberian ginseng is one form of ginseng that exerts a definite radioprotective effect and has been demonstrated to lessen the side effects of radiation. It was widely distributed by the Soviet Union to those exposed Chernobyl radiation and is commonly used to help cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

Consuming Reishi mushrooms is another proven way to bolster your immune system after radiation exposure and helps reduce the damage from radiation. It's been used to decrease radiation sickness in animals and help them recover faster after potentially deadly exposure.

Panax ginseng has prevented hemorrhaging after radiation exposure, prevents bone marrow death and stimulates blood cell formation, so it's another supplement to add to one's protocol. In short, yeasts, beta glucans, bee pollen and various forms of ginseng have all been shown to bolster the immune system after radiation incidents. In terms of radiation burns, aloe vera has a proven ability to treat serious radiation burns and offers other radioprotective effects, and can easily be grown in your house.

The amino acid L-Glutamine can be used to help repair the intestine in case of the gastrointestinal syndrome usually suffered due to radiation exposure, and a variety of substances can help rebuild blood cells to prevent hematopoietic syndrome. Those particular foods include beet juice, liver extract, spleen extract, and shark alkyglycerols. Most oncologists don't know that shark liver oil, with alkyglycerols, can help platelet counts rebound in days.

Depleted uranium is currently in the journalistic spotlight because US weapons are made from this material, and after being fired leave a legacy of depleted uranium dust in the environment, which anyone can absorb. Because the kidneys are usually the first organs to show chemical damage upon uranium exposure, military manuals suggest doses or infusions of sodium bicarbonate to help alkalinize the urine if this happens. This makes the uranyl ion less kidney-toxic and promotes excretion of the nontoxic uranium carbonate complex.

In areas contaminated by depleted uranium dusts, it therefore makes sense to switch to drinking slightly alkaline water and to favor a non-acidic diet to assist in this detoxification. Any of the heavy metal detoxifiers, such as miso soup, chlorella, spirulina and seaweeds, are also commonsense warranted.

Another thing you can do is use homeopathics for radiation exposure. People commonly argue over whether homeopathics work or not, but if you assume the position that they produce no results whatsoever then you must also assume that they certainly won't hurt you, which means the only loss from using them is a few dollars. Frankly, there are countless cases and double-blind studies where homeopathic tinctures do provoke physical healing effects in the body. Therefore they are a viable adjunct treatment option. One homeopathic, in particular, is URANIUM NITRICUM (nitrate of uranium) which homeopaths suggest should be used in cases of depleted uranium exposure or uranium poisoning. Not just soldiers or civilians exposed to battlefield dusts, but uranium miners and radiation workers may find it quite useful.

While we've discussed just a few of the many supplements and protocols you can use to help detox the body of the lingering results of radioactive contamination, including the residues of depleted uranium, the last thing that might be of interest is that there is a plant that is a natural geiger counter. The spiderwort plant is so sensitive to changes in radiation levels (its petals change color upon exposure) that it's often used as a natural radiation detector (dosimeter), just as they use canaries in mines as detectors of poisonous gas. Some people like knowing that they have an ongoing monitoring system for radiation in the environment, and this is just another tip available in "How to Neutralize the Harmful Effects of Radiation or Radioactive Exposure."


It would be wise to keep spiderwort plants inside and outside of your house.


If you suspect radiation within yourself or your environment, there are some ways to remedy the situation. One is the amazing Spiderwort plant, also known as Tradescantiassp. It is one of the best biological or living indicators of radiation and chemical pollution. Studies have shown that in just twelve to thirteen days after being contaminated with even low "safe" doses of radiation or hazardous chemicals, its normally blue stamen hairs begin mutating pink. The greater the ontamination by toxins, the more the flower mutates. The great advantage of the spiderwort is that it absorbs toxins internally and can even store them, much like a mammal. echanicalindicators measure temporary external levels of contamination only. The spiderwort may give a more meaningful measure of the cumulative effect of contamination on all living biological systems. Since 1974, Spiderwort has been successfully and repeated tested in Japan as as a reliable indicator of radiation. The research studies performed by radiation geneticists at the Kyoto and Saitama Universities in Japan and the Biology Department of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, have shown that this plant has the unique characteristic of being able to detect low levels of radiation and dangerous chemical mutagens in the environment. There are also devices called dosimeters used to monitor routine emissions, but measure only gamma radiation, not alpha or beta. The dosimeters, from research, measure the external gamma ray dose for living organisms, whicle the Spiderworts were showing the absorbed dose. The research showed that the radiation level monitored by the dosimeters represents only a part, probably a minor part, of the actual absorbed dose, (external and internal) in living organisms. The experiments demonstrated that low levels of radiation can accumulate and concentrate in living tissue, causing extensive genetic damage, include genetic mutations. (Information from, FIGHTING RADIATION, by Steven R. Schechter, N.D.)


01-31-2012, 08:17 PM
As a physicist, let me tell you that we are exposed to radiation every day. All forms of energy have radiation. The sun is radiation. Coal plants give off more radiation in a year than a nuclear power plant will its entire lifetime. But nuclear power plants are dangerous right??? Give me a break.
Your kidding right? When a coal plant goes boom they don't have to evacuate a 500 square mile area for the next 50 years. :rolleyes:

01-31-2012, 08:57 PM
Interesting article on the subject- seems coal does expose us to more radiation than a nuclear plant- though health risks based on radiation from either source are quite small:

In a 1978 paper for Science, J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and his colleagues looked at the uranium and thorium content of fly ash from coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama. To answer the question of just how harmful leaching could be, the scientists estimated radiation exposure around the coal plants and compared it with exposure levels around boiling-water reactor and pressurized-water nuclear power plants.

The result: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. At one extreme, the scientists estimated fly ash radiation in individuals' bones at around 18 millirems (thousandths of a rem, a unit for measuring doses of ionizing radiation) a year. Doses for the two nuclear plants, by contrast, ranged from between three and six millirems for the same period. And when all food was grown in the area, radiation doses were 50 to 200 percent higher around the coal plants.

McBride and his co-authors estimated that individuals living near coal-fired installations are exposed to a maximum of 1.9 millirems of fly ash radiation yearly. To put these numbers in perspective, the average person encounters 360 millirems of annual "background radiation" from natural and man-made sources, including substances in Earth's crust, cosmic rays, residue from nuclear tests and smoke detectors.

Dana Christensen, associate lab director for energy and engineering at ORNL, says that health risks from radiation in coal by-products are low. "Other risks like being hit by lightning," he adds, "are three or four times greater than radiation-induced health effects from coal plants." And McBride and his co-authors emphasize that other products of coal power, like emissions of acid rain–producing sulfur dioxide and smog-forming nitrous oxide, pose greater health risks than radiation.

So why does coal waste appear so radioactive? It's a matter of comparison: The chances of experiencing adverse health effects from radiation are slim for both nuclear and coal-fired power plants—they're just somewhat higher for the coal ones. "You're talking about one chance in a billion for nuclear power plants," Christensen says. "And it's one in 10 million to one in a hundred million for coal plants."

Radiation from uranium and other elements in coal might only form a genuine health risk to miners, Finkelman explains. "It's more of an occupational hazard than a general environmental hazard," he says. "The miners are surrounded by rocks and sloshing through ground water that is exuding radon."

ounce for ounce, coal ash released from a power plant delivers more radiation than nuclear waste shielded via water or dry cask storage.

01-31-2012, 09:17 PM

A power plant has overexposed its workers to radiation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a fine. The plant, though, is not a reactor; it runs on coal.

The commission said on Monday that it was proposing a fine of $24,700 against the Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which exposed 17 workers, six of them above regulatory limits, at a three-unit coal plant in Laramie near Wheatland, Wyo.

The workers were exposed to a radioactive element, cesium 137, that is common in nuclear plants because it is produced when uranium atoms are split. The Laramie River Station, completed in the early 1980s, does not split atoms, but it does use cesium, as many coal plants do. Cesium 137 emits gamma rays. In coal plants and other industrial plants, the amount of radiation that passes through the material being measured gives an indication of its content, just as an X-ray gives an indication of what is inside a human body. Typically, the coal plants are measuring ash and moisture content of the fuel they burn, and the quantity passing through a coal chute.

01-31-2012, 11:17 PM
Don't forget the radiation from your cell phones too!

... and all other radio devices.

02-02-2012, 11:08 AM
Your kidding right? When a coal plant goes boom they don't have to evacuate a 500 square mile area for the next 50 years. :rolleyes:

Nice eye roll. Take a look at the radiological survey maps around the Terual plant in Spain or the Sostanj plant in Slovenia. Better yet, lets do some math. To generate 1 MW of energy from a coal plant in a year requires about 3 million kg of coal (+/- depending on the quality), the same generation of power from a PWR requires 1 kg of enriched Uranium. If the concentration of Uranium and Thorium are present in coal at 1 ppm and 2 ppm respectively, that works out to 3 kg of U and 6 kg of Th released to the environment every year. Of course, you don't just get U and Th, you are getting a variety of radioisotopes that are the daughters of natural decay and spontaneous fission. Release levels from nuclear facilities are regulated to extremely low levels that every coal plant would violate 100 fold every year if held to the same standards. These materials from coal plants are specifically exempted under federal law from regulation by the NRC or EPA. There are no requirements on the U or Th content of coal that a power plant can use, they burn what is cheapest per BTU. Concentrations vary widely from a few ppm to hundreds of ppm.

Fuel elements for commercial reactors must contain enough material for continuous high power operations for years. Clearly, the ratio of isotopes is skewed away from decay and toward fission in reactors. Short lived isotopes, and those that mimic biological roles, tend to be the worst for producing radiation dose. Bad things become obvious when the contents are released dramatically in a short period of time, however I'm sure that you would be just as outraged if the sum total of radioactive material from a 1500 MW coal facility that had operated for 50 years were released in the same manner (works out to about 675,000 kg of U, Th, and radioactive daughters). Pollution through dilution is still pollution, it just makes it easier to sell to scientific illiterates who have been trained to be too lazy to do the math themselves.

John F Kennedy III
02-02-2012, 11:30 AM
This just in: Chicago health officials raised the level of radiation that's considered safe. Nothing to see here. Move along.