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Progress Energy: Low levels of radiation detected in U.S.

Posted March 26, 2011

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— Very low levels of radioactive Iodine 131 have been detected in the air throughout the U.S. as a result of nuclear leaks at the Fukushima plant in Japan, Progress Energy officials said Saturday.

Iodine 131 is a form of radiation typically released into the air by nuclear reactors.

Progress Energy spokesman Drew Elliot said very sensitive equipment at the utility's Robinson and Crystal River nuclear plants, in South Carolina and Florida, respectively, detected iodine radiation in the atmosphere, but said it did not pose a health threat for U.S. residents.

A news release from the utility stated that similar readings were expected at the Harris plant near New Hill, N.C., and the Brunswick plant near Southport, N.C. in the coming days.

Elliot said iodine travels through the air very easily, which is why it can be detected across the world from Japan, but he reiterated that levels were too low to "affect public health or safety."

An email alert was sent to all nuclear employees, as well as to county and state leaders in the affected areas, on Friday, Elliot said.

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  • florenceps Mar 29, 2011

    I'm no scientist and I hate to be an alarmist, but where are all the world's scientists in all of this? Seems to me that since this is obviously going to affect all the world with the reactors leaking into the ocean and spewing radioactive iodine-131 into the air, that they should be getting help from some of the most prominent scientists to contain this. Or is that like trying to put a band-aid on a severed limb? And I don't believe what "they" are telling us, that the iodine in the air is no more unsafe than eating a banana, pah-leeze! What about the bananas that we buy in our grocery stores that were grown in Hawaii, which is closer to the fallout? What about the fish being caught in the ocean as we speak, that are being contaminated with the radioactive water. Our food sources are now suspect. We are going to have to be more diligent about knowing where the food came from and where it was packaged before it landed in the grocery store.

  • wdprice3 Mar 28, 2011

    "So the radioactive iodine was detected using detectors in place at our own nuclear facilities, right? How can we be certain that the radiation is actually coming from the Japan disaster and not our local nuclear plants?"

    First off, if the local reactors were releasing radiation, then the levels would likely be much higher. Secondly, routine inspections of the structures would have revealed structural damage/leaks. Radiation monitors throughout the structures would have indicated leaking radiation. And other monitoring equipment would have indicated problems with the system.

  • wdprice3 Mar 28, 2011

    "Aren't the effects of radioactive iodine exposure cummulative? If so, any levels in the air could pose a health threat."

    You are speaking of acute vs chronic exposure. While chronic exposure (exposure over a long period of time) is an issue with such radiation, the exposure still has to be at levels high enough to result in long-term accumulation within the body and to amounts that are dangerous. The levels recorded on the U.S. east coast were likely not much higher than background levels, which you are exposed to all the time and thus pose no additional threat to human health via chronic exposure.

    Lastly, the levels were far below dangers for acute exposure, so no worries there either.

  • Iworkforaliving Mar 28, 2011

    "Aren't the effects of radioactive iodine exposure cummulative? If so, any levels in the air could pose a health threat."

    I hope you're wrong, if you are right then most of the people in japan are toast.

  • sheilae4christ Mar 28, 2011

    So the radioactive iodine was detected using detectors in place at our own nuclear facilities, right? How can we be certain that the radiation is actually coming from the Japan disaster and not our local nuclear plants?

  • vineyard jewel Mar 28, 2011

    Aren't the effects of radioactive iodine exposure cummulative? If so, any levels in the air could pose a health threat.