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|DRI Tests Air Samples as a Response to the Fukushima Incident|
Tiny amounts of radioactive material are showing up in Southern Nevada, but pose no health risks
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2011
LAS VEGAS — In response to the large earthquake and resulting tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (March 11, 2011), DRI's Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) installed additional air samplers at existing sampling stations in the network to determine if radiological materials could be detected from the incident.
Beginning the week of March 21, small amounts of the radioactive isotopes iodine-131, xenon-133, cesium-137, cesium-134 and tellurium-132 were detected on air filters collected from CEMP stations in Las Vegas and Henderson. The low concentrations of these radionuclides over a short period of time do not represent a public health hazard. The short half-lives of I-131 (8 days), Xe-133 (5 days), Te-132 (3 days), and Cs-134 (2 years) are particularly indicative of the Japan event, as they could not have been associated with testing at the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site), which ended in 1992.
The most recent samples taken from the end of March through April 1 by CEMP (utilizing charcoal filter and prefilter), showed a downward trend in the monitoring data for all radionuclides.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) people are exposed to radiation daily from different sources, such as naturally occurring radioactive materials in the soil and cosmic rays from outer space (of which they receive more when flying in an airplane). Some common ways that people are exposed to radiation and the associated doses are available on the CDC website.
“Funded by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration and administered by DRI, CEMP’s mission is to provide public stakeholders with a hands-on role in the monitoring process, and to make the monitoring data as transparent and accessible to the public as possible,” said Ted Hartwell, Project Director for the CEMP.
Currently, the CEMP consists of a network of 29 radiation and weather monitoring stations located at communities and ranches surrounding Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The CEMP has been in operation since 1981, and was initiated to address public concerns about radioactivity produced as a result of past and (at the time) ongoing activities at the NNSS. The CEMP is a joint effort between the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office (NNSA/NSO) and DRI.
“By partnering with area residents who gather results from the stations, we are ensuring we have an open and transparent relationship with the community,” said Scott Wade, Assistant Manager for Environmental Management.
To carry out the program’s mission of public outreach, posters describing the program and how to access the CEMP web site for additional information on the detected measurements from the incident in Japan will be located in libraries throughout the monitoring communities and at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas.
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