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But you might not know that nuclear reactions may still be ongoing.
Specifically, it is well-known by nuclear scientists that the ratio of iodine 131 to cesium 137 tells a lot about when nuclear reactions have stopped. For example, on May 2nd, University of Tokyo physics professor Tetsuo Matsui published a scientific paper with the following summary:
We calculate the relative abundance of the radioactive isotopes Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 produced by nuclear fission in reactors and compare it with data taken at the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The ratio of radioactivities of these two isotopes can be used to obtain information about when the nuclear reactions terminated.
Indeed, Gundersen says today:
Unit 3 may not have melted through and that means that some of the fuel certainly is lying on the bottom, but it may not have melted through and some of the fuel may still look like fuel, although it is certainly brittle. And it's possible that when the fuel is in that configuration that you can get a re-criticality. It's also possible in any of the fuel pools, one, two, three, and four pools, that you could get a criticality, as well. So there’s been frequent enough high iodine indications to lead me to believe that either one of the four fuel pools or the Unit 3 reactor is in fact, every once in a while starting itself up and then it gets to a point where it gets so hot that it shuts itself down and it kind of cycles.
Similarly, a Daily Kos writer points out today:
Radiation levels in water inside the silt fence near reactor 2 are high and rising, despite large amounts of dilution. Continued very high levels of Iodine 131 with a half life of 8 days are very hard to explain for a reactor that has been "shut down". Normally Iodine levels would drop several orders of magnitude below cesium activity levels over the sixty day period shown in the graph, but instead they continue to track each other. The level of 10,000 Bq/liter I-131 is very problematic. It is much higher than would be expected for a reactor in cold shut down for 2 1/2 months.
But the legacy of Chernobyl is turning up in hospitals and clinics in New York, where it is growing. Cancer of the thyroid gland is rising in the United States, to about 30,000 new cases a year, according to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, and it is climbing more sharply in New York State.
While there are no data on the rates among different ethnic groups, doctors who work with émigrés from the former Soviet Union say that that population accounts for a significant part of the rise, because of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Pripyat, Ukraine, on April 26, 1986.
Yes the death count from Fukushima will appear low for a while, but there will be plenty of them in the future and some of them will be difficult to trace back to Fukushima. The US EPA isn't even testing fish for radiation, and it's hard to imagine that much radioactivity being dumped into the pacific without some fish picking it up and ingesting it, and then we eat the fish, get a radioactive particle lodged inside us and it may take 20 years for the cancer to form.
Originally posted by Maluhia
reply to post by g146541
That's what Tepco's hoping for - the brighter side of things. They know full well how long radiation exposure takes to show up as the following article shows regarding Chernobyl.