Radiation Monitoring

There is limited monitoring of radiation in the air, milk and water.  Public access to the data is limited.  In California, official 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.

Convert Radiation Units: https://m.convert-me.com/en/convert/radiation/


Solarcast stationary solar powered cellular monitor (beta)

Safecast operates an international volunteer public access real-time radiation monitoring. The levels are aggregated, so peak levels may not display. Individuals can purchase small monitors to help add to the public information available. Also, Solarcast stationary solar powered cellular monitors are currently in beta testing. Radiation monitors are more complicated and fragile than cell phones, so training is needed before use. Monitor must be turned off before charging. Safecast has enabled people to monitor their own homes and environments, and to free themselves of dependence on government and other institutions for this kind of essential information.  However, much more data is needed.  Safecast radiation maps can be zoomed in or out internationally. Turning on the satellite map option will more clearly show the location of the radiation measurement.

EPA RadNet Monitor

EPA Radnet monitoring station and volunteer operator. EPA photo.

Radiation Monitors EPA 2015-10-20Map

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides near real time radiation monitoring information to the public on their RADNET website. See also a California display of this data.

The EPA no longer monitors radiation in milk.  They monitor air, precipitation and drinking water.  However, monitoring is inadequate.

EPA does not have a radiation monitor within 50 miles of the San Onofre nuclear plant. The closest monitors are in San Diego and Anaheim. The radiation beta-particle sensors in San Diego and other major cities are turned off.


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.

San Onofre Radioaactive Oranges

The California Division of Radiation Safety and Environmental Management (DRSEM)  environmental programs include radiation safety, inspection, laboratory testing, and regulatory activities

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Radiologic Health Branch (RHB) previously provided quarterly on-line radiation reports from San Clemente and eight other locations around the state, but that appears to no longer be the case.  Pursuant to California Health and Safety Code section 114755, RHB conducts a small amount of routine monitoring of radioactive materials in the environment, including radioactive materials in media such as air, milk, food, and water.   The results of this monitoring for the years 2011 through 2016 are available by request at environmental.radiation@cdph.ca.gov.

Location of California managed radiation monitors. There is no on-line monitoring capability with these old stationary monitors. Occasional air sampling occurs at the following locations within California.  Filters must be removed at the site and sent to the  California radiation lab in Northern California (Richmond).

  • The information is months old and is not posted with any regularity. And the data is very limited. Their previous stated goal is to produce quarterly reports, but this is no longer provided on-line.
  • 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 have a single Drinking Water and Radiation Laboratory (DWRL) located 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 services the entire state, so there is no redundancy to maintain response capability in case of natural disasters or other radiological events.  This indicates a possible lack of priority and preparedness for a radiation disaster.
  • These reports used to be available on-line, but appear to no longer be on the state website.
    • Additional reports from the Branch
    • Fukushima, January 2014: Sea Water, Sea Life, Soil, Vegetation, and Milk Sample Results, 2011 to 2013
    • Other news from the Radiologic Health Branch
    • Monitoring Fukushima
  • Laws and regulations administered and enforced by the CA Radiological Health Branch

Non-Government Radiation Monitoring


Drinking Water Division — District Offices

The State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water 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. 

  • Maximum Contaminant Levels and Regulatory Dates for Drinking Water (U.S. EPA vs California), November 2008
  • The District Offices are responsible for the enforcement of the federal and California Safe Drinking Water Acts (SDWAs) and the regulatory oversight of ~7,500 public water systems to assure the delivery of safe drinking water to all Californians. In this capacity, the staff perform field inspections, issue operating permits, review plans and specifications for new facilities, take enforcement actions for non-compliance with laws and regulations, review water quality monitoring results, and support and promote water system security.

Local Water Quality Reports

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

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for testing food for radiation and for monitoring imports. Very limited data is being shared and much of it is outdated as you will see from these FDA links.

Dr. Hunter said if there was a specific incident, such as a radioactive release from a nuclear reactor, that could trigger checking for radiation. I mentioned the on-going triple meltdown at Fukushima.  He said he was not aware of any policy or any action taken by the FSIS from that incident. He referred me to the FDA, but was not personally aware of standards for radiation levels in meat and poultry or if FDA set those standards. He knew they set standards for milk and admitted if radiation was found it milk it would be in the cows (which they inspect). He said the FDA had not informed them of radiation in milk.

FSIS Policy Development Contact: 800-233-3935 (option 6) Omaha, NE

PowerPoint presentations to promote a uniform understanding of FSIS issuances (e.g., notices and directives).

Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants

The 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.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol: See Japan Fact Sheet, March 20, 2011

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.

HANDOUT: 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.

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.

What if Fukushima Happened Here Map

Click map to enlarge

What if the Fukushima nuclear radiation fallout happened in the U.S.? These radioactive plumes from severe nuclear accidents were calculated by NRDC based on the actual weather patterns of March 11-12, 2011. The result on any given day will vary according to the type of reactor accident and on the prevailing weather patterns at the time. These plumes artificially extend only to 50 feet. Winds can carry them further.  See NRDC interactive U.S. map.

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


Uranium above MCL in 276 public wells

State Water Resources Control Board Groundwater Information Sheet for Radionuclides

The SWRCB Groundwater Information Sheet for Radionuclides includes:

  • Contamination types, maximum allowable levels, water filtering options and related information.
  • California maps showing public drinking water well locations with some Uranium and Alpha (Gamma) above California water quality limits.



Fukushima 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

PU239 Marine Invertebrates Table II, 1971MayIn general plutonium concentrations are higher in organisms feeding on sediment or on surfaces than in those drawing largely on the water itself. There is some evidence that plutonium concentrations are higher in organisms of higher trophic [food chain] levels.  A considerable series of North Atlantic Ocean organisms have been analyzed, by radiochemistry and alpha spectrometry, for fallout plutonium 239-240 and 238. Organisms from the near-shore environment have been selected to show the effects, on plutonium uptake, of variations in feeding habits, association with sediment or with absorptive surfaces, and of trophic level.  Plutonium in North Atlantic Ocean Organisms; Ecological Relationships, Victor E. Noshkin, Vaughan T. Bowen, Kai M . Wong, John C . Burke, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, May 10-12, 1971

Fishy Tuna OCRegister 2012-05-31

OC Register 05/31/2012

 Blue Fin TunaToon

6 Responses to Radiation Monitoring

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

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