Plume-Gate Tales from the Script: Inside the NRC FOIA Documents Part 2 By Tony Muga


“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ~Upton Sinclair

Chernobyl, a single reactor core meltdown, spread radioactive contamination across the Northern Hemisphere: by some accounts, causing the deaths of an estimated 985,000 people worldwide.

To arrive at this seemingly impossible figure, scientists studied data between the years 1986 and 2004. Why data from 18 years? Although some deaths from Chernobyl were immediate, the vast majority occurred in the years following the meltdown in what can be described as a ‘time-delayed effect’.

In the U.S. study titled: ‘An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the United States Follows Arrival of the Radioactive Plume from Fukushima: Is There a Correlation?’ a period of 28 weeks of mortality rates were examined- 14 before and 14 after the disaster. What authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman discovered was that:

“Deaths rose 4.46 percent from 2010 to 2011 in the 14 weeks after the arrival of Japanese fallout, compared with a 2.34 percent increase in the prior 14 weeks. The number of infant deaths after Fukushima rose 1.80 percent, compared with a previous 8.37 percent decrease. Projecting these figures for the entire United States yields 13,983 total deaths and 822 infant deaths in excess of the expected. These preliminary data need to be followed up, especially in the light of similar preliminary U.S. mortality findings for the four months after Chernobyl fallout arrived in 1986, which approximated final figures.”

Is it fair to compare Chernobyl with Fukushima? And if so, can we extrapolate from that comparison an idea how much worse the latter is with the former?

Number of ‘source terms’: (1) one
Fuel type: Mox
Distance from the U.S.: 5,417 miles’%20(Kiev%20Oblast,Ukraine)&toplace=West%20Seattle%20(Washington,King%20County,US)&fromlat=51.2666667&tolat=47.5709315&fromlng=30.2333333&tolng=-122.3865166

In direct path of Jetstream: No
Government/Industry cover-up: Yes
Fatalities: 985,000+

Number of ‘source terms’: (6) six (4 reactors + 2 spent fuel pools)
Fuel type: Uranium-235
Distance from the U.S.: 5,029 miles,Japan)&toplace=San%20Francisco%20International%20Airport%20(California,San%20Mateo%20County,US)%20%5bAirport%5d&fromlat=37.75&tolat=37.6188237&fromlng=140.4666667&tolng=-122.3758047

In direct path of Jetstream: Yes
Government/Industry cover-up: Yes
Fatalities: 40,000+ and counting

The phrase ‘source term’ indicates any source emanating uncontrolled radiation. In the case of the Fukushima Daiichi facility, the NRC FOIA documents reveal that authorities were considering a possible six source terms for their modeling: the #1 through #4 reactors and the two spent fuel pools of Units #3 and #4.

Compounding the problem, the controversial plutonium-containing ‘MOX’ fuel was being used at Fukushima. How dangerous is MOX fuel? Consider this quote from author Praful Bidwai’s article ‘Warning Signals’ found in a March 2011 issue of India’s ‘Frontline’ magazine:

“…Reactor 3 uses mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel in the core. According to Edwin Lyman of the UCS [Union of Concerned Scientists], ‘the use of MOX generally increases the consequences of severe accidents in which large amounts of radioactive gas and aerosol are released compared to the same accident in a reactor using non-MOX fuel….Because of this, the number of latent cancer fatalities resulting from an accident could increase by as much as a factor of five for a full core of MOX fuel compared to the same accident with no MOX.’ ”

Thanks to high-resolution photos available on the website, even the casual observer can see that the #3 reactor has sustained the greatest damage. Furthermore, according to Amina Khan’s Los Angeles Times interview of Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy adviser for the U.S. Energy Department, the #3 reactor may have experienced something other than a hydrogen explosion:

“’They were irradiating Plutonium in Unit 3, which experienced the biggest explosion,’ he said. In fact, the explosion was so massive that investigators found fuel rod fragments a mile away, leading to speculation that a supercritical fission event may have also occurred, Alvarez said.”

All of this is bad news, but if the meltdowns had taken place at a nuclear plant in Australia, the effects of fallout on the U.S. would have been greatly reduced based simply on the actual physical distance between the two points and the location of the world’s jet streams.

The unfortunate reality is that the United States is in direct line with a powerful jet stream that flows from Japan, over Hawaii and to the West Coast.

The Northern Pacific Jet Stream is well known to commercial pilots who use the currents to save fuel, like a kayaker saves energy when paddling downstream in a river.

If Chernobyl deposited fallout on the U.S. without being in the direct line-of-fire, as far as jet streams are concerned, how is it possible that Fukushima, which lies perfectly within the flow of the Northern Pacific Jet Stream, has not?

On March 16, 2011 Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon raised similar concerns in a letter to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA, and Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the NRC. His skepticism of the rosy picture painted by the ‘experts’ is obvious:

“I write to inquire about the potential risk to U.S. West Coast communities from the explosion and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan. In a region that is already breathing air pollution from China, my constituents are concerned about radiation contamination from the facility reaching the West Coast. While a number of experts have indicated that contamination in the U.S. as a result of the Japanese catastrophe is unlikely, I would like to better understand the agencies’ contingency plans and your plan for disseminating information to concerned citizens.”

Is it unreasonable to ask such questions? Is it unreasonable to expect truthful answers? What happened to transparency? Back to the Mangano and Sherman study:

“In the United States, Chernobyl fallout was detected in the environment just nine days after the meltdown. Gould and Sternglass (5) used EPA measurements of environmental radiation post-Chernobyl (6) and found elevated levels of radioactivity in air, water, and milk. For example, EPA data indicate that from May 13 to June 23, 1986, U.S. milk had 5.6 and 3.6 times more iodine-131 and cesium-137 than were recorded in May-June of 1985. In some cities, especially those harder-hit Pacific Northwest, average concentrations were as much as 28 times the norms, while some individual samples were much higher. Gould and Sternglass (5) also studied preliminary mortality data, to analyze any potential impact from fallout. Using a 10 percent sample of all U.S. death certificates, they found that during the four months after Chernobyl (May-August 1986), total deaths in the United States rose 6.0 percent over the similar period in 1985. Eventually, final figures showed an increase of 2.3 percent, which exceeded the 0.2 percent decline between the actual and expected death totals, is 16,573. To date, the cause of this unusual pattern remains unknown, and no research testing hypothesis for causes other than Chernobyl has been published. This difference has a very high degree of statistical significance; there is a less than 1 in 10^9 probability that it occurred by random chance.”

Visibly, one can watch the leaked models from Tepco and frame by frame through the plume and fallout trail as it flows from the West to East and to the United States.
But what is most stunning about the DataPoke models is that they are of the substances plutonium and neptunium: if these models are correct, or even close, the U.S. was hit a lot harder than anyone in government or industry has ever let on.

Interestingly enough, the words plutonium, uranium or neptunium are strangely absent from the NRC FOIA transcripts, at least what I have read so far (over 1,500 pages), how is this possible? To be fair, the MOX fuel issue is covered, albeit in a talking points format (see below).

So what can we conclude from all this? Considering what you have just read, and the fact that U.S. officials suspended radiation testing, raised the safe limits of exposure (Ex. A…-not-science/, and advised that Potassium Iodine (KI) was not needed in California (right after Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said it would not be an over-reaction to have some) (Ex. B, the situation certainly appears as if it has all the trappings of a grandiose cover-up.

The American public seems to be, as I believe H.W. ‘Poppy’ Bush once famously said, ‘out of the loop’. And when we do get nosey and start asking questions, like the meddling kids of the cartoon Scooby-Doo, what do we get?

Talking points, talking points and more talking points.

(All italicization is done by the Author of this article for emphasis on key points.)

– -O-ri-g-in al Message —–
From: Jaczko, Gregory
To: Weber, Michael; Brenner, Eliot
Cc: Batkin, Joshua
Sent: Fri Mar 11 09:25:49 2011
Subject: Federal and public communication

I would like a written update by 10 for the status of us licensees and our best and accurate info for japan that could be distributed to public and fed family. Also I need a 1 page set of talking points with the most important points as soon as possible.

– O–ri-gi-n al Message —–
From: Weber, Michael
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 9:41 AM
To: Jaczko, Gregory; Brenner, Eliot
Cc: Batkin, Joshua; Mamish, Nader; Virgilio, Martin; Collins, Elmo; Leeds, Eric
Subject: Response – Federal and public communication

We’re on it. I’m in the Ops Center. We have completed Federal agency notifications and are coordinating with the NRCC.

From: Brenner, Eliot
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 8:42 AM
To: Weber, Michael; Jaczko, Gregory
Cc: Batkin, Joshua; Mamish, Nader; Virgilio, Martin, Collins, Elmo; Leeds, Eric
Subject: RE: Federal and public communication

Our talking points are distributed for use agencywide, and there is a government-wide communicators
conference call in a few minutes that OPA [Office of Public Affairs?] will monitor.

From: Maier, Bill
Sent: Saturday, March 12, 2011 4:08 PM
To: Tifft, Doug; Logaras, Harra
Attachments: boardfile.docx

Here are the talking points – They are not approved for sharing with the states except orally (the public
portions only).

From: LIA04 Hoc
Sent: Saturday, March 12, 2011 1:25 PM
To: McNamara, Nancy; Maier, Bill; Trojanowski, Robert; Barker, Allan
Cc: Virgilio, Rosetta; Turtil, Richard



Note that OPA is referring questions about monitoring to EPA. The NRC EPA has indicated that if there is a release, they will assume their role as lead agency under the national response framework.

Talking points not good enough?

Dr. Wilds

Edward L. Wilds, Jr.; Ph.D.
Director, Radiation Division
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

From: McNamara, Nancy
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:03 AM
To: LIA04 Hoc; OST05 Hoc; Maier, Bill; Logaras, Harral; Allard, David; Trojanowski, Robert
Cc: Dean, Bill; Lew, David
Subject: State of CT Requesting Input Parameters for Dose Projections

Please see the question below from the State of CT. Additionally, we were asked to pass
along sentiments expressed yesterday to Region I on our SLO counterpart call with our States.
There was a unison request for the input parameters that was used in RASCAL for us deriving the data information released to the public. Due to the significant role our States play in making protective action decisions, they have the technical background for interpreting data and are proficient on RASCAL or a similar type of dose projection model. They strongly expressed that they are not capable of explaining to their Governor’s office the data that was released because they don’t know what assumptions were used in our dose assessment model.
We used our talking point and it appeared to be unsatisfactory. Until otherwise directed,
Region I will continue to work with the States to help them understand the NRC’s position on
not releasing the assumptions.

—–O riginal Message —–
From: Wilds, Edward rmailto:Edward.Wildsoct.govl
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2011 8:07 PM
To: McNamara, Nancy; Tifft, Doug
Subject: Input Parameters for

I am watching a C-Span briefing of the Japanese Natural Disasters & Nuclear Plant Crisis
that involved NRC Chairman Jaczko and a DOE official. One of the members of the press asked
Chairman Jaczko if the NRC would release the data that was used to base the decision for
evacuation of 50 miles in Japan. Chairman Jaczko stated that all the data was released. I
request all input parameters used in the RASCAL runs attached to the yesterdays NRC press
release. Since Chairman Jaczko has stated that the data used to base the decision was
released to the public, it should be released to the states. If this information is not
available, why is the Chairman stating to the press that all data has been released?

Dr. Wilds

Edward L. Wilds, Jr.; Ph.D.
Director, Radiation Division
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

What’s the difference between talking points and non-talking points?

Excerpt taken from talking point guideline pages 15-18:
Questions and Answers for Chairman Jaczko
March 11, 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Aftermath
As of 10:00 a.m. 3/12/2011

7. What happens when/if a plant “melts down”?
Public Answer: In short, nuclear power plants in the United States are designed to be safe. To
prevent the release of radioactive material, there are multiple barriers between the radioactive
material and the environment, including the fuel cladding, the heavy steel reactor vessel itself and the containment building, usually a heavily reinforced structure of concrete and steel several feet thick.

Additional, technical, non-public information:
The melted core may melt through the bottom of the vessel and flow onto the concrete containment floor. The core may melt through the containment liner and release radioactive material to the environment.

It should be noted that a disclaimer, found on page one of the FOIA documents, states: ‘Except for the marked redactions for FOIA withholding, this transcript has not been edited or otherwise reviewed for accuracy by participants or the NRC. It may contain typographical mistakes or other transcription errors.’

All italicization is done by the Author of this article for emphasis on key points. Also, keep in mind some of the participants are aware they are being recorded and that transcripts can be sought after and made available at a later date under the Freedom of Information Act.


The letter from Congressman Blumenauer to Lisa Jackson and Gregory Jaczko may be found on page 103 of this 413 page document.

The talking points section was taken from the above 413 page document and this 220 page document (, both free and available to the public at the website (


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