Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japan's Leaked Radiation May Soon Become Harmless

Berkeley Lab's Per Peterson, chairman of the nuclear engineering department at the University of California, Berkeley, says this tells him a lot about the nature of the accident that led to those releases. "Because there's iodine, this certainly was material that had come out of the reactors, not the spent fuel pools, because in those cases the iodine-131 is pretty much completely gone," he says. Iodine-131 decays quickly — it has a half-life of just eight days. That means that over the course of two or three months, virtually all of it will be gone. Because the used fuel has been sitting in its pools for months or even years, it clearly can't be the source of this material. That's reassuring news for engineers concerned about the condition of those pools. More>