Following reports of abnormally high radiation readings on a beach in San Francisco, experts have discovered radiation hot spots measuring 1,400 percent above normal background levels, although they are keen to stress there is no link to Fukushima.
Image: Radiation Sign (Wikimedia Commons).
As we reported on Monday, after a viral video emerged showing a man recording measurements of over 150 micro-REM per hour, 500 per cent normal background radiation, on a beach south of Pillar Point Harbor, San Mateo County officials confirmed the spike but said they were “befuddled” as to the cause.
In a new development, El Granada electrical engineer Steven Weiss, a 40 year veteran designer of Geiger counters, took his own measurements and found hot spots that were returning levels 14 times normal background radiation.
“It’s not normal. I’ve never seen 400 cpm when I just wave my Geiger around.” Weiss told the Half Moon Bay Review. “There has to be something radioactive for it to do that.”
After studying a dirt sample in a spectrum analyzer, the substance was found to contain radium and thorium, which are both naturally occurring radioactive elements. No evidence of cesium-137, the fissile material used in the Fukushima reactors, was discovered, leading Weiss to conclude that the radiation had no link to the nuclear plant in Japan.
“There are reports that a pipeline was once at this location and oil pipelines can collect heavy radioactive minerals,” said Dan Sythe, CEO for International Medcom, which designs and manufactures Geiger Counters, adding that babies and young children should be kept away from the beach, “to make sure they don’t inhale or eat the sand.”
Many were concerned that the radiation could be related to Fukushima because experts have concluded that the radioactive plume from the nuclear accident in March 2011 will reach U.S. coastal waters by early 2014.
As non-scientists, it remains difficult to ascertain the true threat posed by the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Opinion seems to be polarized, with some saying it represents a dire threat to humanity while others, mainly those in positions of authority, downplaying the issue as completely harmless.
The truth must obviously lie somewhere in between, but constant efforts to mislead the public on behalf of both Japanese government and TEPCO officials by lying about the true scale of the radiation release has only stoked suspicion. A recently passed law also imposes 10 year prison sentences on journalists who seek to obtain sensitive information about Fukushima.
The EPA’s horrendous role in lying to the American people and tens of thousands of ground zero workers in the weeks after 9/11, telling them that asbestos-laden air was safe to breathe, has also created an environment of distrust when it comes to public health concerns.