Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples,citizens concerned: Cook Inlet Beluga Whale & oil

August 24, 2011 PRESS RELEASE For immediate release.

Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples, and citizens are concerned about the critical habitat and actual recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Escopeta's rush for oil and gas activity. Questions of profound concern linger over the decline of Cook Inlet eulachon fishes since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. One of the major food species for humans and Cook Inlet Beluga Whales

Today, the Pacific States/BC Oil spill task force meetings taking place today in Anchorage will address the Pacific States and British Columbia, US and Canadian preparedness for preventing oil spills and blowouts offshore; this meeting is setting the framework for and emerging discussion amongst Native Villages, Tribal governments, conservation organizations and other stakeholders about oil spill and blow out preparedness in Cook Inlet.

“The Cook Inlet Tribes have not been notified, no information, no details of the Escopeta Company oil and gas activity in Cook Inlet. The traditional hunters cannot hunt but it seems that industry has no problem on permits to incidental take, and harass endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whales. The Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes understanding is that nothing would be done until the tribes have substantive government to government input through the consultation process; the Tribes are still waiting. We are confident that there will be no oil and gas action taken until the Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes have adopted a Coastal Zone Management Plan . The Tribes of Cook Inlet will be addressing a Coastal Zone Management Plan at the next CITT meeting.” - MaryAnn Mills Chair of Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes.

Escopeta Company is rushing oil and gas activity by pushing a jack –up Spartan 151 drill rig into critical Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Habitat for a " Cash Prize" from the State of Alaska with little or no Federal or State oversight, especially considering the State of Alaska recently dumped t the Alaska Coastal Management Program.. Oil spill contingency plans are thus questioned in Cook Inlet, and in the Arctic Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples, and citizens are concerned about the critical habitat and actual recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Escopeta’s rush for oil and gas activity. Questions of profound concern linger over the decline of Cook Inlet eulachon fishes since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. One of the major food species for humans and d Cook Inlet Beluga Whales

“When considering Unusual Mortality Events of unknown causes, we should not ignore adverse events affecting marine mammals and other species, until we know that adverse ecosystem impacts are not caused by oil and gas activities or oil spill response activities.” - John French PhD. Pegasus Environmental Solutions of Alaska

The Escopeta Company activity in Cook Inlet is significant oil and gas activity that warrants public participation .and review. Drilling is located in the middle of Endangered Species Act listed endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whale migratory pathways that is critical to the recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale habitat.

“Scientist have yet to determine Marine noise pollution impacts, like new drilling rigs, on young Cook Inlet Beluga Whales that frequent inland waters to escape natural predation by killer whales; ‘and this time of year many belugas are foraging on multiple species of salmon as they migrate to spawning rivers and streams in Cook Inlet.”- Carl Wassailed Biologist -- Alaska’s Big Village Network

“Lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the BP Deepwater Horizon should be implemented in oil spill contingency plans. There should be a public review of the oil spill contingency plans for Cook Inlet and the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas. ” - Walt Parker former Chairman of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Commission

“Until just recently it appeared National Marine Fisheries Service was the only governmental agency that was concerned about a an oil spill blowout regarding the Cook Inlet Beluga Whales and suddenly we hear yesterday that Senator Begich and NOAA Director Dr. Lubchenko are meeting with the stakeholders of the oil and gas industry to streamline the permitting process. It sounds like NMFS has done an about face on oil spill contingency planning in Cook Inlet .” - Harold Shepherd Water Policy Consultant

"Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) were done on our Beluga Whale hunters, even after 10 years of standing down on the harvest; why does Escopeta get to rush a drilling rig with NO updated Environmental Impact Statement, and no notification to Tribal governments or Tribal communities? This action clearly and disproportionately burdens the indigenous peoples of Cook Inlet whom have used and occupied the historic waters of Cook Inlet for customary and traditional hunting, fishing and gathering , commerce and navigation since time immemorial."The adverse cumulative impacts, risk assessments and oil spill contingency plans are inadequate for Cook Inlet, a Historical Bay. There is national and international interest in following federal in protecting invaluable natural resources. The Federal Agencies have an obligation to implement federal acts such as NEPA, MMPA, ESA, and Executive Order 13175 on government to government Consultation, and Executive Order 12898 Environmental Justice and President Obama’s Executive Order 13366 Section 1B Committee on Ocean Policy which states , “ to facilitate , as appropriate, coordination and consultation regarding ocean related matters among the Federal, State , Tribal governments, the private sector , foreign governments and international organizations.” Nikos Pastos Center for Water Advocacy

Contact: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nikos Pastos Board Treasurer Center for Water Advocacy, Homer Alaska 907-764-2561

Carl Wassilie Biologist Alaska’s Big Village Network Anchorage, Alaska 907-382-3403


ESCOPETA notice requirements were supposed to have been provided to the Cook Inlet Villages and their Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council regarding the Spartan 151 Jack-up rig. This requirement is contained in the Alaska Coastal Management Programs' Escopeta North Cook Inlet (Offshore), Kitchen Prospect Exploration State ID N0, and AK2006-0201OG Final Consistency Determination which states on page 6:
"2. Escopeta Oil & Gas Corporation will coordination with the Native Village of Tyrone, The Kenai Peninsula Borough Coastal Management Program, the Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council (and others as per Escopeta's Plan of Operations) to ensure that Escopeta's activities avoid and minimize potential adverse impacts to Beluga whales; the availability of fish and wildlife for commercial and subsistence uses; as well as the quality of life for Alaskans.
3. Commercial, sport and subsistence interests stakeholders who have expressed interest during the company's outreach programs will be notified by Escopeta at least 48 hours before transport of the drilling vessel in Cook Inlet waters...."

Beluga Whale Picture

“Application of Best Available Technology & the Zero Discharge Standard to Cook Inlet Oil and Gas Development 907-299-8821


Saturday, August 6, 2011

In Honor of all victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki and Fukushima Tragedy

In Honor of all victims of Hiroshima/ Nagasaki and Fukushima Tragedy

Tiny - Posted on 04 August 2011

Tiburcio & Tiny

Revolutionary Legos is an ongoing series by Tiburcio and Tiny using Legos to teach on acts of repression and domination to poor peoples of color and indigneous peoples across Pachamama

This first one is dedicated to all victims of the nuclear lie from Fukushima to Hiroshima to Lawrence Livermore in Berkeley on this, the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dirty Nuclear Power Plants in US: Tipping Point


Stuart H. Smith

You could argue that support for the embattled nuclear industry has eroded to an international tipping point – that the ongoing crisis and devastation in Japan has sent the industry tumbling headlong toward extinction. Supporting evidence: The growing number of nations – including Germany, Switzerland and China – that have suspended expansions of their nuclear programs until safety risks can be fully assessed and deemed “acceptable,” or not.

Are we witnessing the early stages of a modern day “domino effect” that will ultimately bring down the global nuclear industry one country at a time? It’s not that hard to imagine in the current nuclear climate.

“The events in Japan…teach us that events deemed absolutely unlikely can happen,” German Chancellor Angela Merkeln recently said in Berlin. “We have a new situation and this has to be analyzed very thoroughly. …Safety stands above everything.”

So as countries in Asia and Europe take a deep breath and rethink the viability of nuclear power, the issue becomes whether the industry that brought us disasters like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island can stand up to a new level of international scrutiny. Well, let me just say if the current situation that’s unfolding here in the United States is any indication, the global nuclear industry is in for the fight of its life. And it may be a fight that simply can’t be won because of the dangers inherent in the generation of nuclear power.

The Associated Press just released an alarming investigative report that inches us closer to a suspension of U.S. nuclear operations until further safety reviews can be conducted. The most troubling finding (thus far) from the AP’s yearlong examination of safety issues is that three-quarters of the aging nuclear power plants here in the United States are leaking radioactive tritium into groundwater supplies from New Hampshire to Illinois to Arizona – in some cases, at concentrations hundreds of timesthe federal drinking water limit.

The tritium is leaking from deeply corroded underground networks of pipes – in some cases, up to a mile in length – that lie beneath nuclear power plants. Issues of groundwater contamination are exacerbated by the fact that: Tritium moves through soil quickly, and when it is detected it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time. For example, cesium-137 turned up with tritium at the Fort Calhoun nuclear unit near Omaha, Neb., in 2007. Strontium-90 was discovered with tritium two years earlier at the Indian Point nuclear power complex, where two reactors operate 25 miles north of New York City.

The significant cancer risk associated with these excessive tritium levels, which by the way are in violation of federal law, has health advocates and radiation experts calling for additional testing and comprehensive safety reviews of “aging” nuclear facilities.

The EPA plainly states that tritium levels in drinking water should measure no more than 20,000 picocuries per liter. At that level, 7 out of every 200,000 people who drink that water “for decades” would develop cancer. In my opinion, if even one person dies from drinking “government approved” water over the course of 20 or 30 years, the acceptable level is set too high. But that’s another argument for another day.

What the AP discovered when pouring over reams of records from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should strike fear in us all – and give our elected officials political cover to introduce legislation that suspends the expansion of our nuclear program until further review. Here’s what the AP found in terms of tritium levels at a handful of nuclear sites around the country:

At the three-unit Browns Ferry complex in Alabama, a valve was mistakenly left open in a storage tank during modifications over the years. When the tank was filled in April 2010 about 1,000 gallons of tritium-laden water poured onto the ground at a concentration of 2 million picocuries per liter. In drinking water, that would be 100 times higher than the EPA health standard.

At the LaSalle site west of Chicago, tritium-laden water was accidentally released from a storage tank in July 2010 at a concentration of 715,000 picocuries per liter – 36 times the EPA standard.

The year before, 123,000 picocuries per liter were detected in a well near the turbine building at Peach Bottom west of Philadelphia – six times the drinking water standard.

And in 2008, 7.5 million picocuries per liter leaked from underground piping at Quad Cities in western Illinois – 375 times the EPA limit.

According to the AP report, the highest known tritium readings were discovered at New Jersey’s Salem nuclear power plant in 2002 – and the radioactivity lingers to this day. From the AP report:

Tritium leaks from the spent fuel pool contaminated groundwater under the facility – located on an island in Delaware Bay – at a concentration of 15 million picocuries per liter. That’s 750 times the EPA drinking water limit. According to NRC records, the tritium readings last year still exceeded EPA drinking water standards.

The “leak problem” isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, according to the AP, the problem is only getting worse as nuclear plants and their miles of underground pipes age, corrode and crack: The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.

The ill-advised relicensing of aging plants is allowing pipes to corrode further, increasing exponentially the risk of worse and more frequent leaks. More from the AP report:

Last year, the Vermont Senate was so troubled by tritium leaks as high as 2.5 million picocuries per liter at the Vermont Yankee reactor in southern Vermont (125 times the EPA drinking-water standard) that it voted to block relicensing – a power that the Legislature holds in that state.

Activists placed a bogus ad on the Web to sell Vermont Yankee, calling it a “quaint Vermont fixer-upper from the last millennium” with “tasty, pre-tritiated drinking water.”

The gloating didn’t last. In March, the NRC granted the plant a 20-year license extension, despite the state opposition. Weeks ago, operator Entergy sued Vermont in federal court, challenging its authority to force the plant to close.

At 41-year-old Oyster Creek in southern New Jersey, the country’s oldest operating reactor, the latest tritium troubles started in April 2009, a week after it was relicensed for 20 more years. That’s when plant workers discovered tritium by chance in about 3,000 gallons of water that had leaked into a concrete vault housing electrical lines.

Although it’s being reported that none of the leaks is “known to have reached public water supplies,” it’s only a matter of time before that happens as pipes continue to age. The AP report reveals some near-misses:

At three sites – two in Illinois and one in Minnesota – leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, the records show, but not at levels violating the drinking water standard. At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

As Chancellor Merkeln stated when suspending Germany’s nuclear program, public safety must be Priority One. That becomes a tall order when any level of radiation exposure, however slight, increases the risk of cancer. And that’s not me talking, that warning comes directly from the National Academy of Sciences. Clearly, our federal government has to overcome some deep-seated pro-industry proclivities before the United States follows Germany’s lead. According to the AP:

…regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules. While NRC officials and plant operators argue that safety margins can be eased without peril, critics say these accommodations are inching the reactors closer to an accident.

Has the international community reached a nuclear power tipping point? I can’t say for sure, much depends on how the Fukushima disaster shakes out in the near term.Will the international community eventually reach a nuclear power tipping point? Of course it will, and that day may come much sooner than many of us think.

Read about the state of nuclear affairs in Europe here:

Catchup on how China is dealing with its nuclear program:

Here’s the full AP article on the pervasive tritium leaks:

Read about the five worst nuclear disasters in history here:

© Smith Stag, LLC 2011 – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 12, 2011



Press release by Radiation and Public Health Project

Embargoed until 12 p.m. EST, June 9, 2011 Contact Joseph Mangano 609-399-4343

June 7, 2011 – Infant deaths rose 35% in the Pacific Northwest since mid-March, when fallout from the meltdowns at Japanese nuclear reactors reached the U.S., according to data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and featured in a new report by health researchers.

Soaring infant deaths occurred in the region where the highest levels of environmental radiation were found in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) samples, raising the possibility that there is a link between Japanese radiation and risk of infant death.

“The fetus and infant are highly susceptible to harm from radiation,” says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA. “The Fukushima meltdowns are still releasing radiation, so trends should be monitored further,” he adds. Mangano is Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP), a New York-based health research group. He is the author of the new report on Fukushima fallout in the U.S. and infant death trends.

The airborne radioactive plume from Japan reached the West Coast on March 17, six days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns in four reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant. EPA data shows that most of the highest levels in the continental U.S. of radioactive Iodine-131 (I-131) in precipitation in late March were found in Idaho, northern California, Washington, and Oregon.

The two highest precipitation levels found by EPA were in Boise ID (390 and 242 picocuries of I-131 per liter of water, hundreds of times greater than the typical level of about 2). Along with Boise, samples from Richmond CA (near San Francisco), Portland OR, and Olympia WA made up 6 of the 10 highest measurements in the U.S. I-131 is one of over 100 radioactive chemicals found only in nuclear reactors and atomic bombs.

Infant deaths reported to the CDC in eight northwestern cities averaged 9.25 per week for the four weeks ending March 19. The average jumped to 12.50, a 35.1% increase, in the following 10 weeks. Cities include Boise ID, Portland OR, and Seattle WA, plus the northern California cities of Pasadena, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. Total U.S. infant deaths increased 2.3% during this time.

Infant deaths are published in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. They are preliminary (final figures are available in 2014), but are often similar to final data. The CDC data can be accessed at; EPA data is at

RPHP health researchers ( have published 27 medical journal articles and 7 books on health hazards of radiation exposure. Their work has been covered by the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, and Fox News.


Joseph J. Mangano MPH MBA, Radiation and Public Health Project, June 7, 2011

Purpose. This report will present and analyze data on radioactivity levels in the U.S. from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, and any changes in health status since this radioactivity entered the U.S. environment and diet.

Background. On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear plant, with six reactors, to lose cooling water (from loss of electricity). Three reactor cores and two waste pools suffered meltdowns. Explosions caused breaches in containment buildings, and high levels of radioactivity entered the environment. The radioactive plume moved east, reaching the West Coast on March 17.

Japanese radioactivity in the U.S. is being ingested by Americans through breathing and the food chain. This phenomenon has occurred previously, such as above-ground nuclear weapons tests and the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.

This report examines changes in environmental radiation levels in the U.S., along with changes in health status, since the arrival of the plume in March.

EPA System of Measuring Environmental Radiation. The federal government has monitored levels of environmental radioactivity since 1957, during the time of above-ground nuclear weapons testing. Originally managed by the U.S. Public Health Service, this task has been assigned to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1975.

The EPA makes periodic measurements of radioactivity concentrations in air, precipitation, water, and milk. It operates a system known as RADNET, which includes 124 stations in the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Saipan, and Guam.

Historical data beginning in 1978 are available on the EPA web site, and earlier data are also available in hard copy format. After Fukushima, the EPA increased the frequency of their measurements, and on April 5, made 2011 data available in interactive format. However, on May 3 the Agency reverted to its normal schedule of quarterly measurements, claiming recent samples could detect no radioactivity.

For March and April 2011, the EPA has made available online hundreds of radioactivity measurements (Table 1). All individual readings can be accessed by visiting

Table 1
March-April 2011 EPA Measurements of Radioactivity

Indicator Precipitation Milk Drinking Water Air (Filter) Air (Cartridge)
Number of Sites 32 36 72 21 12

Number of Samples 157 67 153 79 150

Samples with 77 9 34 72 105
Detectable Iodine-131

The EPA made measurements of 10 radioactive chemicals only produced in atomic bomb explosions and nuclear reactor operations. The vast majority of measurements did not detect radiation, and were marked “ND” (not detectable). The one exception to this general inability to detect radiation was Iodine-131 (I-131). This chemical has a short half-life (8 days), which means it originated from a current source – most likely a nuclear reactor. It is not clear why the EPA detects I-131 more easily than other chemicals.

I-131, like all forms of radioactive iodine, attacks the thyroid gland after ingestion. It can cause cancer and other disorders of the thyroid, which plays a key role in physical and mental development, especially in the fetus and infant.

The greatest number of detectable I-131 samples are in air (cartridge method), air (filter method), and precipitation, with 105, 72, and 77, respectively. Unfortunately, the air cartridge samples cover 12 sites, only 4 in the continental U.S., limiting a national analysis. Air filter samples include 13 sites in the continental U.S., just 6 outside California and Florida. Precipitation has the greatest geographic spread of measurements and will be analyzed as a rough proxy for U.S. levels of radioactivity from Japan.

Patterns of Iodine-131 in Precipitation. Historical EPA data shows the typical level of I-131 in U.S. precipitation is about 2 picocuries of I-131 per liter of water (pCi/l). This number was determined by measurements at 9 U.S. sites on May 1-3, 1986, just before the plume from the Chernobyl accident arrived over the nation. A picocurie is a measure of radioactivity, and is one-trillionth of a curie.

After Fukushima, from March 22-25, samples of I-131 in precipitation at 12 U.S. sites had an average (median) level of 39.6 pCi/l, or about 20 times greater than normal. This figure was roughly half of 1) the peak level after Chernobyl and 2) after a large above-ground atomic bomb test by China in late September 1976 (Table 2):

Table 2
Historical EPA Measurements of I-131 in Precipitation

Event Dates No. of Sites No. of Samples Median I-131
Large Chinese 10/ 4/76- 11 26 75.5
Bomb test 11/ 2/76

Prior to Chernobyl 5/ 1/86- 7 9 2.0
(“normal”) 5/ 3/86

Chernobyl peak 5/14/86- 36 45 99.5

Chernobyl end 5/27/86- 18 20 25.5

Fukushima peak 3/22/11- 22 37 44.5

Concentrations of I-131 in 77 EPA measurements in precipitation with a detectable level varied greatly. Some were quite small, while others were much greater than normal, approximating or exceeding 100 times the normal concentration. Table 3 lists the 10 highest individual U.S. levels of I-131 in March and April.

Table 3
Iodine-131 in Precipitation, Highest Levels in U.S., March/April 2011

Location Date I-131 Level
* 1. Boise ID March 22 390
* 2. Boise ID March 22 242
3. Kansas City KS March 29 200
4. Salt Lake City UT March 28 190
5. Jacksonville FL March 31 150
* 6. Richmond CA March 22 138
* 7. Richmond CA March 22 138
* 8. Olympia WA March 24 125
9. Boston MA March 22 92
* 10. Portland OR March 25 86.8

* Located in the Pacific Northwest

Of the 10 highest samples, 6 were from stations in the Pacific Northwest, including northern California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. A seventh, Salt Lake City, is not technically part of the Pacific Northwest, but is relatively close to the region. Thus, it is prudent to conclude that this region received the greatest amount of fallout from Fukushima, and thus any changes in health status that might be linked to the Japanese meltdowns would occur there.

Trends in Infant Deaths in the Pacific Northwest. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for decades. Since 1993, each edition of the MMWR includes deaths by age group for each of 122 U.S. cities with a population of over 100,000. The MMWR is available at

The MMWR report on deaths has certain limits. It only represents 30% of all U.S. deaths. It lists deaths by place of occurrence, while final statistics are place of residence. It also represents deaths by week a report is filed to the local health department, rather than date of death. Finally, some cities do not submit reports for all weeks.

Despite these limits, patterns of deaths reported in the MMWR are often consistent with final statistics, if a large enough group of cities and/or long enough time period are used. Final data for 2011 deaths are released in 2013 or 2014, and are only available for full years. Thus, MMWR data are helpful to make before-and-after comparisons in a year.

One age category used by the MMWR is under age one (infants). This is the most likely group to detect any link with Japanese fallout. All humans are affected by radiation exposure, but the fetus and infant are much more susceptible, because of their rapid growth and cell division. Damaging a fetal or infant cell makes it more likely that the cell with divide into more damaged cells before it can repair itself, as opposed to a slower-dividing adult cell. Damaging a cell’s DNA code, as radiation does, makes it more likely that a baby will be stillborn, die in infancy, be born prematurely/at low weight, or be born with a birth defect.

There is a precedent for radioactivity linked with higher infant deaths. On May 5, 1986, fallout from Chernobyl reached the U.S., just 9 days after the meltdown. EPA measurements of I-131 in U.S. milk showed that from mid-May to late June, average concentrations were 5-6 times greater than in the same period in 1985. Several years later, a journal article presented official CDC data showing the U.S. infant death rate rose in the four months after Chernobyl compared to a year earlier (+0.43%, compared to a decline of -4.22% for the other 8 months, an excess of 593 deaths). CDC data confirm the magnitude of this four month “bump” was unprecedented, suggesting Chernobyl fallout may have contributed to higher infant death rates in the summer of 1986 (Table 4).

Table 4
Changes in Infant Death Rates, U.S., 1985-1986

Deaths < 1 Yr Rate/1000 Births % Change
Date 1985 1986 1985 1986 In Rate
May-August 12788 12800 9.85 9.90 + 0.43
Other 8 Mos. 27242 26091 11.04 10.58 - 4.22

Note: Chernobyl fallout arrived in the U.S. environment on May 5, 1986. Excess Deaths = [0.43 – (-4.22) ] x 12,800 = 593. Source: Gould JM and Sternglass EJ. Low-level radiation and mortality. CHEMTECH, Jan. 1989, 18-21.

The MMWR 2011 data show that in the four weeks immediately preceding the arrival of Japanese fallout, an average of 181.5 infant deaths were reported (in 111 cities with full reporting for each week). For the 10 weeks following, the number increased to 185.6 deaths per week, a 2.3% increase, which is not statistically significant (Table 5).

Table 5
Infant Deaths, 111 U.S. Cities, By Week, 2011

Week Ending Infant Deaths
2/26/11 173
3/ 5/11 189
3/12/11 164
3/19/11 200
Number /average 4 weeks 726 (181.5)
3/26/11 182
4/ 2/11 200
4/ 9/11 187
4/16/11 154
4/23/11 167
4/30/11 190
5/ 7/11 183
5/14/11 200
5/21/11 212
5/28/11 181
Number /average 10 weeks 1856 (185.6)
% Change in Average +2.3%

Note: Includes all 122 U.S. cities in the MMWR, except for those with at least one week missing data (San Francisco, Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Columbus, Fort Worth, Paterson, New Orleans, Phoenix, Worcester, Tucson).

The MMWR includes 8 cities in the Pacific Northwest, namely Boise ID, Portland OR, Seattle WA, Berkeley CA, Sacramento CA, Santa Cruz CA, San Francisco CA, and San Jose CA. Weekly reported infant deaths in the four weeks immediately preceding the arrival of Japanese fallout and the 10 weeks following are given in Table 6.

Table 6
Infant Deaths, 8 Pacific Northwest Cities, By Week, 2011

Week Infant Deaths (Deaths < 1 Year)
Ending Boise Portland Seattle Berk Sacra S. Cruz S. Fran S. Jose Total
2/26/11 2 0 3 0 2 0 4 0 11
3/ 5/11 0 4 1 0 1 0 0 3 9
3/12/11 0 1 2 0 2 0 1 2 8
3/19/11 0 0 2 1 2 0 2 2 9

3/26/11 1 2 6 1 2 0 2 2 16
4/ 2/11 0 0 3 0 1 1 --- 1 6
4/ 9/11 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 1 6
4/16/11 0 1 2 1 5 0 0 2 11
4/23/11 0 0 4 0 1 0 2 4 11
4/30/11 0 3 5 0 4 0 1 5 18
5/ 7/11 1 0 2 1 4 0 3 7 18
5/14/11 2 2 3 0 3 0 2 1 13
5/21/11 2 1 2 2 5 0 1 2 15
5/28/11 0 2 0 0 1 0 3 5 11

4 Weeks Before Japan Fallout Total (Average) Weekly Deaths 37 ( 9.25)
10 Weeks After Japan Fallout Total (Average) Weekly Deaths 125 (12.50)
% Change in Average +35.1% (p<.09)

Note: No data reported for San Francisco, week ending April 2

The average weekly infant deaths for the 8 cities rose sharply from 9.25 to 12.50, a jump of 35.1%. Because a large number of deaths are involved (37 and 125 in the two periods), the change approaches statistical significance at p<.09 (p<.05 is significant).

A review of MMWR data shows that the average weekly number of deaths for all other age groups in the Pacific Northwest (and the U.S.) changed little in the periods before and after the arrival of Japanese fallout.

Discussion. The EPA increased the frequency of monitoring environmental radioactivity in the U.S. after the meltdowns at Fukushima. The Agency documented higher concentrations in the U.S., especially in late March. However, most measurements of chemicals other than I-131 did not detect radioactivity, and after observing declining levels, the EPA decided to resume its normal schedule of quarterly measurements.

Despite these limitations, it appears that the Pacific Northwest received the most Japanese fallout in the U.S. While these levels are much lower than near the Fukushima plant, it is still important to review health status data for unusual patterns.

The MMWR is useful for examining very recent mortality data in cities across the nation. A comparison of infant deaths during the four weeks prior to the arrival of Japanese fallout and the 10 weeks following showed a 35.1% rise in 8 Pacific Northwest cities.

The data suggest that the following steps be taken to enhance the research:

1. Review independent measures of U.S. radioactivity to confirm EPA data are consistent

2. Review changes in environmental radioactivity and infant deaths in Japan, as high radioactivity levels and rising infant deaths would be expected

3. Continue to monitor infant deaths in the Pacific Northwest and the U.S., using MMWR

4. Request data from state/local health departments on infant health, even if incomplete

Finally, the data should be shared with the appropriate regulators, namely the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the EPA, and state radiation protection bureaus. Information suggesting that relatively low exposures to radiation from nuclear reactors are linked with infant health problems should be part of the regulatory process.


1. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Radiation Programs. Environmental Radiation Data. Montgomery AL: Eastern Environmental Radiation Facility. Report 8, April 1977 (hard copy reports with radioactivity in precipitation after China bomb test), and Report 46, September 1986 (radioactivity in precipitation after Chernobyl).

2. Environmental Protection Agency. RadNet, formerly Environmental Radiation Ambient Monitoring System. (radioactivity in air, precipitation, water, and milk, beginning 1978).

3. Environmental Protection Agency. (radioactivity in air, precipitation, water, and milk for March/April 2011).

4. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (weekly deaths by age for 122 U.S. cities).