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Archive for March 18th, 2011

Clouds

Is that you I see in that yellow pollen cloud? The yellow haze has begun

by msphotospy @ webshots

to choke the area. We ate outside this morning and watched my daughter’s dark phone become covered in pollen in only a few minutes like watching snow build on the ground in winter. Yuck! There are other clouds out there, and our thoughts are with those who live ‘downwind’ from the nuclear plant in Japan. The word RADIATION is probably on most people’s minds in the US, too because we do not know exactly how much radiation has been released into the air from the crippled nuclear power plant or what the future holds for the people in Japan and for us who live in the states. That’s number one (1). Number two (2) has to do with those of us who live very close to varying forms of radioactive materials. We are always concerned about our health and what lies ahead-if there is any danger, etc.

My parents worked in a place that made atomic bombs way back when, and radioactive material is still stored and processed there which is not far from where I sit writing this-too uncomfortably near sometimes. Some material has been converted into a more stable form and some is stored in the ground virtually FOREVER. We also have a nuclear power plant just across the river from the “bomb plant” that is in the process of adding two more reactors as I write. I worked for the company when it was being constructed back in the summer of my college years-before they went online. The reactors are so much better than many because of their containment housings and such. We all want to feel safe, so what do we need to be concerned about? Is there a need to be concerned? Yes. There is always a reason to be concerned-not panicky. However, being aware of our surroundings is key-always! Here’s how I see things:

 (1) Given:  there are different types and various degrees of radiation in everything on earth and small amounts of radiation can be released into the air and will disperse with no real adverse reaction. The problems come when it is large amount being released and the particles reach the ground usually brought down with rain and other precipitation (fallout). This type of contamination is nothing to be really concerned about if it is minimal, but large amounts will affect food and water-crops, animals, etc. There’s not a lot one can do to stop this except monitor levels of possible affected supplies. There is more, but this is a blog posting and not a book.

 (2)  Nuclear power plants can be a relatively safe form of energy, but storing spent fuel rods are a problem because of the heat and radioactivity that remains in these rods for so long – same thing with other radioactive material. There is not much one can do when you are dealt a double whammy like an astronomical earthquake and then giant tsunami. That’s why it is important where reactors and such are built, but is anywhere safe all of the time? Every location carries some sort of risk. Locally, we have more of threat of hurricanes and forest fires as far as natural disasters. Long term, an ‘inactive fault’ lies not far away-actually, our house is on one…but earthquakes are not the norm. The ocean is less than 100 miles away, but the area was beachfront property long ago.

Our choices in life matter-including those made for us and the rest of humanity. This is why it is so important to think of others when making decisions. I AM concerned about the present situation but am not panicky. I do have questions about the safety of nuclear fuel and all radioactive material because it can get into the water supply from underground storage bunkers (and has), and there is always the possibility of something happening that can cascade into a domino effect-like Japan. My dad died of cancer and my mom had several miscarriages, then I was born with a ‘birth defect.’ I don’t know if these things have anything to do with their time at the plant, but I know there is risk – sometimes accepted risk that people do not consciously make. I write this because of all of the concern. There was a time that I entertained the idea of going into this type of career – a nuclear physicist because of my love for science.  I can only ask you to always be aware of your surroundings and not just when things are in the news.

Happy Gardening to everyone! May your gardens be beautiful always!

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