The Nuclear “Either or Or” Mythology goes back a long time.

Before I get into the actual topic of this post, I have to say something stinks about the events of the 14 March 2011 and 15 March 2011 regarding the disclosures regarding reactor number 4 and its fuel pool.,d.aGc&cad=rja

The above link is to the document “Report on Project Gabriel” 1954. The document was produced by the US Atomic Energy Commission, Division of Biology and Medicine, and was created in 1954. A number of documents preceded it. The earliest relate to close in plutonium hazards at nuclear targets. The 1954 report was not de-classified until 1981.

Pdf page 2 of the document reads as follows “The objective of Project GABRIEL is to evaluate the radiological hazard from the fallout of debris from nuclear weapons detonated in warfare. Depending upon the conditions under which such weapons are used, the major interest may lie either in local fallout or in the super- imposed long range fallout from many weapons. ……… A theoretical analysis of the long range aspects of GABRIEL was made in 1949 by Dr. Nicholas
M. Smith, Jr., Oak Ridge National Laboratory, at the request of the Atomic Energy Commission. Smith concluded that Sr–90 is by far the most hazardous isotope resulting from nuclear
detonations, and that the distribution of this isotope over large areas of the earth’s surface
constitutes the limiting factor in estimating the long-range hazard from the use of a large number
of atomic bombs. In 1952 RAND Corporation was given a contract to make an independent study of GABRIEL, with some emphasis on the short-range aspects of fallout, Study of this phase, later called AUREOLE, has been carried as far as present information appears to permit, and a report has
been prepared.’

Note that “short range” in the above context refers to both the distance and time frames.

In the event, in August 1953 it had already been decided that the long range hazard (in time and distance) posed by the build up of Strontium 90 in the entire earth’s biosphere would guide the direction of Sunshine, the Project which had been born out of Project Gabriel. For the public this project would look only at Strontium 90 build up in the biosphere over years from many weapon detonations. Sunshine only ever reported on Strontium 90 in human bone, food, water and the environment in public.

However, fission produces many more substances than strontium 90, which is one of the least radioactive of the 5 or 6 strontium isotopes produced by fission. See

Meanwhile, from very early on, the AEC studied other fission products during Projects Gabriel and Sunshine but never discussed these in public. In fact the previously secret documents released by ACHRE and made available since 1994 show conclusively that Sunshine conducted a long study of Strontium 89 at the same time. Strontium 89 has a half life of about 52 days and within 3 years the deposition from each bomb had ceased to be a consideration. So, even though the public was told that the only worry for the United States was the long term build up of strontium 90, the AEC secretly conducted immediate effects studies. We can deduce this because the documents show the intense AEC interest in Sr89, an immediate but not long term hazard. At the same time as the AEC was claiming that there was no immediate danger, it was studying one of the major immediate hazards. It’s actions, in hindsight, speak louder than its words. Of course, both hazards are important. All hazards are important.

The effect of the decision taken in the August meeting held in Washington in 1953 effectively defined Project Sunshine as a study of long term effects only. But only in terms of public releases.

The limited number of early reports dealing with immediate hazards from fresh fallout were thus, as far as public utterances were concerned, relegated to the precursor studies such as Project AUREOLE. And such documents remain thin on the ground. Even personnel studying the fallout within the US military a few years later had trouble accessing the early studies, and later I introduce one such military study.

(One participant of the August 1953 meeting, Kramish (see for his bio) expressed concern for those subject close in to fresh fallout even as the AEC determined that 26,000 megatons of nuclear weapon detonations would be the lethal limit of bombs. At that point higher life forms would have difficulty surviving. Of course the ridiculous notion assumed even spread. As Kramish realized the spread would not be even and the close in would die first, as indeed, the Downwinders will us, they do.)

And so it was that the AEC set about secretly obtaining human remains from around the world for the study of Strontium 90 uptake in human bone. The project would not cease until the 1970s.

The Castle Bravo event of 1954, in which fresh fallout from a very large H bomb rained in a concentrated manner upon the Marshall Islanders caused a world outcry. The press were there to cover the bomb and turned their cameras to the victims. Even though the AEC and US Navy (Cronkite, Pearson) reported to Congress in 1956 and 1959 that the strontium 89 of the Islanders urine samples were “near tolerance levels for Strontium 89”, in 1954 the AEC’s head honcho of Projects Grabiel and Sunshine maintained that there was no immediate hazard to Americans from the bomb tests. Cronkite’s 1954 reports contradict Libby and the official US government line in 1954. But these reports are now largely forgotten. The main hazard and the main substance which caused the famous skin burns to Islanders was Strontium 89. Not Strontium 90.

Sr90 is about 400 times as radioactive as radium 226 weight for weight. Sr89 is 28,0000 times as radioactive as radium 226 weight for weight.

A public brawl broke out between Libby and Ralph Lapp, also of the AEC. Lapp argued that Libby’s position was wrong, but Lapp never mentioned Strontium 89. Pauling, not of the AEC, mentioned the wider range of substances in fallout and did not mention Strontium 89 either. However, it was known at the time that the fission process created much more Sr89 than Sr90 and that Sr89 was much more radioactive than Sr90. Its Beta energy was also much higher than that of Sr90. Pauling for his trouble, was hauled before the House UnAmerican Activities and had his passport suspended. Though world embarrassment caused the US State Department to return it to him so he could collect his second Noble Prize. Hamilton admitted in secret documents that Strontium 89 animal injection studies were proceeding in the 1950s. All the AEC and DOE released to the public were the results of the Strontium 90 animal experiments. And the Sr90 experiments did not produce any life shortening the test animals the AEC and DOE claim. However the current General Electric data sheet for Strontium 89 confirms what was known prior to 1942 about Strontium 89. GE writes that of 40 rats injected with Sr89, 33 developed bone cancer within a 9 month window. But the AEC nor the DOE mentions this in relation to Project Sunshine and fallout. The GE data was only published after 1993.

Despite knowing then, that both long term and immediate hazards were important, for 30 years nuclear authorities in charge of nuclear testing encouraged the public to think only in terms of long range hazard, denying, contrary to the documents the authorities had created themselves, which indicated profound immediate hazards in fresh fallout. Once the dose is delivered to the human, that dose forms part of the human’s accumulating life time dose. No matter how short the half life, the immediate effect contributes to the accumulating dose. And so this huge insult from fresh fallout is born by survivors. And it shortens lives. There is no doubt in my mind for example, that Australian servicemen died at the time of the nuclear tests in Australia. (And here I will give a personal story. I once worked as a casual employee at the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs. My supervisor at that time, many years ago, had been a nurse at the time of the atomic tests in South Australia. She worked in a hospital up north, close to the source of the fallout. She recounted the time, during the test period, that an Aboriginal boy was brought into the hospital. The doctors and nurses treating the boy were threatened and were ordered to remain silent about the case. The boy died and the cause was put down to infectious disease. The National Secretary of the Atomic ExServicemens’ Association has recounted many such stories relating to military personnel. People who sickened and died at the time, many more who sickened and recovered for a number of years. But of course, the British Law Lords will not hear of this. They refuse to hear it.)

Still, the “close in or distance”, the “immediate harm or long term hazard”, are concepts of exclusion which guide the public into making the false choice. And so some public argument is about which choice to make. In both example cases, there is no valid choice. The situation is that both close and distant fallout are important and also that both immediate exposure and long term build up of fallout components are important.

Even today, the same holds true in relation to the concepts of dispersion of nuclear emissions or focused, directional plume.

A recent article in “Japan Focus” has brought these false choices into my mind, casting it back to the previous examples as gleaned from Projects AUREOLE, Gabriel and Sunshine (there was another precursor to Gabriel, I forget, at the moment what it’s name is, though it also was named after an angel as I recall .)

Here is the relevant piece of the Japan Focus article:

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 12, No. 1. March 25, 2013.
A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission: Cat and Mouse with a Nuclear Ghost

Roger Witherspoon

This is part two of a two part series.

For several days, the winds from the destroyed nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi crashed head on into the myth of the radioactive plume.

It is the most enduring falsehood of commercial nuclear power, promoted heavily by both the industry and its watchdog, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is a myth with two conflicting premises:

Radioactive gases spewing from a stricken reactor or spent fuel pool have an inherent property which holds them in a tight, thin stream which prevents widespread contamination.
At 10 miles the plume disperses like steam from a teapot, leaving traces that are either too small to measure or are so minute as to be “below regulatory concern.”

The contradiction between being tightly bound and widely dispersed is never challenged. It was most clearly enunciated at a public hearing April 8, 2002, in White Plains, New York, on the evacuation plans for the two Indian Point reactors, located about 30 miles north of Manhattan, owned by Entergy Corp. There was no dissent from NRC officials as Entergy’s Larry Gottlieb said, glibly, “the easiest way to avoid a radioactive plume is to cross the street.
“It’s kind of like someone pointing a gun at you and all you have to do is step to the left or right to get out of the pathway of the bullet. That’s all you have to do.”

During the frenetic first week after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the infrastructure of Japan’s northeast coast, killed some 20,000 people, rendered hundreds of thousands homeless, and set four of the six Fukushima Daiichi reactors on an irrevocable path to meltdowns, officials from the U.S. Departments of Defense, State, and Energy, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission clung to the notion that the situation was manageable as long as the “plume” held true to the myth and blew out to sea.

That was paramount to DoD, which had 63 military installations throughout the Japanese islands containing some 60,000 men and women and their families. It was a relief, therefore, when the aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan reported on March 13 that its sensors were picking up radioactive material on its flight deck, 130 miles off the coast.

According to the NRC Status Report, “The measureable radioactivity was consistent with the venting of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor. The Navy also collected air samples having activity above background from the ‘plume’. Analysis, the report states, would show the Reagan contaminated with “iodine, cesium and technetium, consistent with a release from a nuclear reactor.”

Projected Fukushima plume 3.11.11

Projected Fukushima Plume 3.12.11

Radiation spread from Fukushima, 3.11-3.24.11

The full article, which I will put up at a later date, can be read here:

In relation to the bomb test era, I long ago concluded that the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee was empowered to keep the bomb test program in Australia safe from the public and that in relation to Fukushima the same dialetic (see allows the nuclear industry to present information remotely connected to the facts in the best possible light at the time. And over time they will happily change the mix to the same end, ie PR which presents nuclear power in the best positive light possible. Everything is an advert.

In regard to the plume argument I can quote an ARPANSA document which was commissioned as a result of a CTBO detection of a radiation spike in Melbourne in 2009.

The document explains that wind direction is not constant with altitude, and, when looked at from the vertical perspective, the wind may well blow in all cardinal directions and all points in between at the same time. The factor which allows this is altitude. Wind direction very commonly varies markedly with altitude. And in the example I will cite, this can be seen. It is only in the concept of a single altitude that wind direction (and indeed wind speed) can be seen as a single vector or stream. So, plumes can go in all directions, and when only altitude is considered, a distinct plume is seen. When all relevant altitudes are considered and plotted, one sees, in the case of contamination, a blanket with irregular edges or a blanket with ragged edges rather than a plume.

Wind shear is not an abnormal event then, it is usual.

This consideration of wind sheer is not the same as the air crash investigators appreciation of “wind sheer”. In the case of airports, which sees aircraft ascend and descend through various altitudes rapidly, is the wind speed and wind direction differential of relevance. The matter is a very different one to the concerns raised by nuclear fallout and the paths the fallout clouds take at varying altitudes.

For pollution the directional considerations remain regardless of the wind speed differential at altitude. So here the term wind sheer simply refers, in relation to contamination spread and pattern and place of deposition, simply to the fact that at different altitudes the wind usually displays sheer when altitude is properly considered. That is, the wind blows in different directions at different altitudes most of the time. (The Jet stream of course being a component of this 3 dimensional fact, which blows in the one direction all the time in the upper part of the vertical air column.)

(the link to my original use of the document is here:http://nucl

Source link for Abstract and Purchase ($31.50)

The article gives the Lucas Heights Sydney nuclear reactor as the source of the emissions. The diagrams show that wind sheer at different altitudes allows movement of the radioactive emissions in question to move via wind direction to South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland at the same time.

The resultant combined model map shows a blanket of emissions over the areas of concern. This is due to the fact that at various altitudes wind direction was to SA, Vic, NSW and to points north (ie Queensland) at the time of emission. ie the plumes moved north, south, east and west at varying altitudes at the same time.

The article goes on to cover the movement of one plume (ie at one altitude) which traveled south to Melbourne, where it triggered CTBO sensors, causing the query from CTBO to the Australian government.

Once the CTBO was assured that Canberra had not detonated a bomb, and that in fact the emissions were from the Nuclear Medicine production reactor, Sydney, the CTBO went back to sleep.

Similar emissions occur at the Sydney reactor once every 12 weeks, due to fuel rod removal and replacement. It is a known event for these emissions to regularly reach SA, Vic, Queensland. The market for nuclear medicines is healthy in Australia. And the reactor in Sydney is very busy dispersing radioactive substances over 4 states without a prescription. There are better ways to produce nuclear medicines that do not risk producing more patients in the process.

The Paper:

Cost to access full paper: $31.50 paid to Science Direct.
Evaluation of radioxenon releases in Australia using atmospheric dispersion modelling tools

Rick Tinker a, Corresponding author contact information,
Blake Orr a,
Marcus Grzechnik a,
Emmy Hoffmann b,
Paul Saey c,
Stephen Solomon a

a Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), 619 Lower Plenty Road, Yallambie, Victoria, Melbourne 3085, Australia
b Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Environmental Monitoring, PMB1, Menai, NSW 2234, Australia
c Vienna University of Technology, Atomic Institute of the Austrian Universities, Stadionallee 2, 1020 Vienna, Austria

Received 15 September 2009. Revised 21 January 2010. Accepted 8 February 2010. Available online 26 March 2010.


The origin of a series of atmospheric radioxenon events detected at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) International Monitoring System site in Melbourne, Australia, between November 2008 and February 2009 was investigated. Backward tracking analyses indicated that the events were consistent with releases associated with hot commission testing of the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation (ANSTO) radiopharmaceutical production facility in Sydney, Australia. Forward dispersion analyses were used to estimate release magnitudes and transport times. The estimated 133Xe release magnitude of the largest event (between 0.2 and 34 TBq over a 2 d window), was in close agreement with the stack emission releases estimated by the facility for this time period (between 0.5 and 2 TBq). Modelling of irradiation conditions and theoretical radioxenon emission rates were undertaken and provided further evidence that the Melbourne detections originated from this radiopharmaceutical production facility. These findings do not have public health implications. This is the first comprehensive study of atmospheric radioxenon measurements and releases in Australia.

Environmental radioxenon;
Noble gas monitoring;
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty;
Radiopharmaceutical facilities

Published in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Volume 101, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 353–361 $13.50
Illusration thumbnails from abstract page:

In all this it can be seen that if one looks at a single altitude, one sees a plume. If one looks at all altitudes, one sees a blanket or blob. Both exist together. All patterns are important.

Note the model for emission from the Brazilian reactor.

I have a strange feeling the average American has no idea of how far their many reactors cast their radio poisons in the course of normal routine operation and refueling.

Add Fukushima to that. This is not either/or. It is both/and.

It is because of the demonstrated casualty rate from Lucas Heights and past contamination of domestic house backyards in Sydney (Sutherland Shire) that we are acutely aware of the “miracle” of Lucas Heights down here. (A number of houses “downwind” (hmmm) of the reactor, were, in the 1970s, found to have suffered contamination from fallout from the reactor. The soil in the gardens of these homes were unsafe. The soil was scrapped up and for many years was stored in 44 gallon drums at the reactor site. Hence the saying “Not in their backyards.” This term was first uttered by nuclear safety people who found they had to scrape up backyards and take the radio-poisons back to the reactor site. The Howard government moved the drums to Woomera, SA, and they have since been stored in a bunker behind the instrumented range and rocket/missile launch pad at Woomera rocket range. Genius John.

I should point out, and this may interest Americans, that Xenon is not the only radioactive gas emitted during refuel or explosion.

Krypton is another gas. And Krypton 89 is the precursor to the decay product Strontium 89, one of the most dangerous fission products known. On its own is potent enough to cause skin burn and is a potent carcinogen. 33 out 40 rats injected with Sr89 developed bone cancer within a 9 month window.

Krypton 89 > Rubidium 89 > Strontium 89 > stable. The disappearing bullet.

The ARPANSA model above only accounts for Xenon.


It is difficult to find Project AUREOLE documents. I have one mention of it in a document on a hard drive somewhere.

Here is a document which covers it briefly:

The History of Fallout Prediction – Defense Technical Information Centre DTIC
The abstract for the above publication states: “The development of the science of fallout prediction in this country from 1950 to 1979 is described. The chronological description emphasizes
early developments and the relationships between some of the significant
calculational models. The earliest work on fallout prediction discussed
is that performed by RAND on Project Aureole in 1954, and the evolution
is carried through to the derivatives of the DELFIC computer code. A
section is devoted to the histories of four commonly used handbook
prediction systems. ”

I wonder how the prediction systems went with Operation Fishbowl Bluegill, one of the high altitude nukes.

Well, a lot of it followed the earth’s magnetic flux lines to the arctic region.

“It’s plume!” “It’s a blanket!”. In this case the blanket resolved into a hemispheric stream which, by and large, with exceptions tended to flow to the arctic region.

One Response to “The Nuclear “Either or Or” Mythology goes back a long time.”

  1. CaptD Says:

    IMO – Fukushima Radionuclides in the upper atmosphere are having a big effect on our current weather

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