Friday, 15 April 2011

Iodine 131 Half-Life: Eight Days

"To make room for more highly radioactive liquid, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric, pumped tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific, but stopped after the move was criticized by South Korea..."

"... Japan’s nuclear safety commission has estimated that the Fukushima plant’s reactors had released up to 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per hour into the air for several hours after they were damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami."
What Mark Tran neglects to mention in that piece is that iodine 131 isotopes have a half-life of eight days during which time the isotope decays. That decay time limits the extent of the immediate ecological damage the isoptope can inflict, though an accurate assessment of the secondary ecological consequences of this damage will require empirical field work. Information about radioisotope half-lives is critically important to understanding what threat that 10,000 terabecquerel figure poses to the people and ecology in the immediate vicinity of the Daiichi plant. That is my chief criticism of this otherwise reasonably balanced piece.

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