Radiation Monitoring

There is limited monitoring of radiation in the air, milk and water in California.  And public access to the data is limited.  Near real time radiation levels close to San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are not available to the public.  See California Radiation Monitors map, and EPA RADNET website and location map, and EPA radionuclide water testing requirements.

EPA RadNet Monitor

EPA Radnet monitoring station and volunteer operator. EPA photo.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides near real time radiation monitoring information to the public on their RADNET website. However, monitoring is inadequate.

Broken RadNet monitors and late filter changes impaired this critical infrastructure asset. On March 11, 2011, at the time of the Japan nuclear incident, 25 of the 124 installed RadNet monitors, or 20 percent, were out of service for an average of 130 days.

Until EPA improves contractor oversight, the Agency’s ability to use RadNet data to protect human health and the environment, and meet requirements established in the National Response Framework for Nuclear Radiological Incidents, is potentially impaired.

    • States may request that RadNet stations be established. See RADNET User Guide for more information.
    • The EPA Radionuclides in Drinking Water website provides information about radionuclides in drinking water and provides guidance materials to help states and water systems comply with EPA standards. The EPA drinking water standards for several types of radioactive contaminants are: combined radium 226/228 (5 pCi/L); beta emitters (4 mrems); gross alpha standard (15 pCi/L); and uranium (30 µg/L).

San Onofre Radioaactive Oranges

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Radiologic Health Branch provides quarterly radiation reports from San Clemente and eight other locations around the state.  

    • The information is months old and is not posted with any regularity. And the data is very limited. The stated goal is to produce quarterly reports.
    • Their current equipment does not have the capabilities to provide near real time data (like that of the EPA’s RADNET system).  A Branch Health Physicist said their statutory requirement to do radiation monitoring is an “unfunded mandate”.
    • They use the Drinking Water and Radiation Laboratory (DWRL) in Richmond  to analyze samples for radiation. DWRL is the State’s primary drinking water quality testing laboratory and is the only State laboratory capable of measuring environmental radiation. The DWRL lab in Los Angeles does not test for radiation, even though the DWRL website states “The two [lab] sections serve different geographical communities within California and provide a measure of redundancy to maintain response capability in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes or terrorism events.” This indicates a possible lack of priority and preparedness for a radiation disaster.
    • Additional reports from the Branch
CA DPH Drinking Water Program District Offices Map

CA DPH Drinking Water Program Districts

The California Department of Public Health’s Drinking Water Program (DWP) regulates public drinking water systems, but it doesn’t regulate bottled water or vended water — these are regulated as food by CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch. 

Southern California Edison has monitoring stations at San Onofre, but they will only share annual reports with the public.

Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power PlantsThe Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows all nuclear plants to release various types of radiation every year. Nuclear reactors cannot operate without doing this.  The NRC allows levels “as low as reasonably achievable” — not what is safe.

Nevada Community Radiation Monitoring

Nevada has a Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP). It is a network of 29 monitoring stations located in communities surrounding and downwind of the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), formerly the Nevada Test Site (NTS), that monitor the airborne environment for manmade radioactivity that could result from NNSS activities. The CEMP is a joint effort between the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office (NNSA/NSO), and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The network stations, located in Nevada, Utah, and California are comprised of instruments that collect a variety of environmental radiological and meteorological data.

To manage the stations, DRI employs local citizens, many of them high school science teachers, whose routine tasks include minor maintenance of the equipment, collecting air filters and routing them to DRI for analysis. These Community Environmental Monitors (CEMs) are also available to discuss the monitoring results with the public, and are available to speak to community and school groups. Program funding and equipment are provided by NNSA/NSO. DRI manages the program, provides technical direction, employs and trains CEMs, conducts public outreach activities and collects data to be analyzed by an independent laboratory.

See also Jeff McMahon’s Forbes article Citizen Monitors Keep A Wary Eye On Radiation And Government.

Please share this one page fact sheet on California Radiation Monitoring with your elected officials and ask their support to improve radiation monitoring in California.

See Guidance for Radiation Accident Management for radiation measurements, conversions and related information.

San Clemente is the closest city to San Onofre.  Public near real-time radiation monitoring in San Clemente would benefit all of Southern California. However, it does not exist. And San Onofre has refused to share current data with us.  Repeated requests to the San Clemente City Council for help obtaining near real-time radiation monitoring for the public have been rejected or ignored.  See February 7, 2012 letter to San Clemente City Council.

The County of San Diego Radiological Health Program (Community Health Division) participates in emergency preparedness planning for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station & the Off-site Dose Assessment Center. And San Diego County is one of the few local agencies designated by the Department of Health Services to conduct radiation inspection.

San Diego State University purchased a RADNET monitoring stationHowever, they are not sharing data with the public, according to this HI-Q Environmental Products Company July 25, 2012 press releaseFor more information about the RADNET equipment, see Page 28 of HI-Q Catalog.

San Onofre Unit 3 had a radiation leak on 01/31/2012.  NRC Management Directive 8.3 (2/16/2012) states the leak amount is an “estimate” (page 6 of Decision Document form). This brings into question the accuracy of the data we are receiving from San Onofre.

San Onofre releases radioactive tritium in the ocean and ground. For more information about tritium click here.

Radiation Types and Risks: For information on types of radiation and health risks, click here.

How Citizen Scientists can Sample Radiation – Fairewinds Video.

What is RadNet Compliant?

RadNet compliant radiation monitors, independent of the manufacturer or type, may all be connected to the same network. The monitors may be linked in real time directly to one or more PC workstations. The RadNet communication protocol is based on the Universal Datagram Protocol / Internet Protocol ( UDP/IP) which is common to all systems using the well known TCP/IP protocols for data transmission. The network can handle literally hundreds of monitors with no measurable network load. More…

See also RadNet Basics Slide Presentation

State Water Resources Control Board Groundwater Information Sheet for Radionuclides

Fukushima Radioactive Fallout in North America

    • These maps show government and scientific data of Fukushima radiation fallout into North America from March 8th, 2011 to April 5th, 2011.  This represents less than one month of data and includes limited monitoring sites. Radiation fallout continues from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants, yet there seems to be a lack of priority and resources dedicated to informing the U.S. public about the risks.
Fukushima N. America Radiation Fallout Map 2011 NADP

Atmospheric back trajectories from sites where radioactive fallout was measured in NADP precipitation samples.

Fukushima USA Cesium-137 Fallout Map 2011 NADP

NADP sites where USGS measured Cesium-137 in precipitation samples. Dot size represents relative deposition amounts (0.8 – 240 Bq/m2).

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in collaboration with the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) monitored North American precipitation samples for the presence of nuclear fallout after the 3/11/2011 Japan Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Specifically, excess precipitation and filtrate (insolubles suspended in precipitation) from National Trends Network sites and selected Mercury Deposition Network sites were analyzed for the presence of radiological fallout for samples collected during the 3/8/2011 to 4/5/2011 sampling period. NADP samples were provided to the USGS’s TRIGA Nuclear Facility in Denver Colorado, where the radiological determinations were made.
The study found concentrations (activity) and fallout (deposition) of radioactive iodine and radioactive cesium in significant number of samples. Detectable quantities of Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and Cesium-134 were observed at 21% of the 167 tested locations. Concentrations of I-131 detected in 5 samples ranged from 29.6 to 1090 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Concentrations of Cs-134 detected in 23 samples ranged from 0.4 to 55 pCi/L. Concentrations of Cs-137 in 33 samples ranged from 0.70 pCi/L to 39 pCi/L.
Detections and measurable fallout from wet deposition was observed primarily at NADP sites located along the West Coast of the US, the central Rocky Mountain region and northern Great Plains, the central and upper Mississippi River Valley and eastern mountainous regions ranging from Virginia northward through Vermont. Deposition was also observed at NADP sites in Alaska (see figure).
See NADP report: Measurement of Radioactive Fallout from the March 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Incident
Fishy Tuna OCRegister 2012-05-31

OC Register 05/31/2012

 Blue Fin TunaToon

5 Responses to Radiation Monitoring

  1. Pingback: Radiation Levels Hidden from Public | San Onofre Safety

  2. Pingback: Radiation levels increase in San Onofre cooling system | San Onofre Safety

  3. Pingback: 02/21/2012 San Clemente City Council Meeting | San Onofre Safety

  4. Pingback: 03/20/2012 6 PM San Clemente City Council Meeting – Radiation Monitoring | San Onofre Safety

  5. Pingback: Nightmare of Nuclear Waste | San Onofre Safety

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