15 March 2011

Radiation from Coal vs Nuclear Plants

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Click to read the online article from Sci. American

I’ve had several emails about my post last night and specifically about the fact that that coal fired power plants produce more radiation than nuclear power stations. I did some research and found a very good article in Scientific American on just this subject.

They actually used Tennessee and Alabama for the examples used in the study. Coal ash has been in the news a lot recently with the huge incident in late 2008.

The Scientific American piece is here, and definitely worth a read.

There is actually some good news this afternoon from the Fukushima plant. It seems that radiation levels have dropped considerably (60 mrem). The winds are now blowing any radiation released out to sea.

I attempted to call up the hourly weather ob at Sendai airport but it stopped at 3 PM Friday. The 4 PM ob would have been after the tsunami hit the airport (which millions watched live on TV). Looking at nearby obs, the winds are now turning to the West and will stay there for a few days.

NOAA Hysplit model trajectory of air at 50 and 250 meters over the Fukushima plant.


If there was a significant radiation leak today, the winds would likely carry it to western Alaska in about 4 days. The levels would be many times lower as the radiation spread out across the Pacific and would cause no harm. It would be detectable though.