The accidental or hostile exposure of individuals to ionizing irradiation is of great public and military concern. Radiation sickness (acute radiation syndrome, or ARS) occurs when the body is exposed to a high dose of penetrating radiation within a short period of time. Systemic infection is one of the serious consequences of ARS. There is a direct relation between the magnitude of radiation exposure and the risk of developing infection. The risk of systemic infection is higher whenever there is a combined injury such as burn or trauma. Ionizing radiation enhances infection by allowing translocation of oral and gastrointestinal flora, and reducing the threshold of sepsis due to endogenous and exogenous microorganisms. The potential for concomitant accidental or terrorism-related exposure to bio-terrorism agents such as anthrax and radiation also exists.

This site is made of a home page that presents new developments and updates on the management of acute radiation syndrome including concomitant exposure to radiation and anthrax. Separate pages are dedicated to the treatment modalities.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Radioactive water to be removed from underground tunnels of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Since the outbreak of the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, leakage of radiation-contaminated water has been the major threat to Japan’s population and environment, as well as to the international community.

On December 4 2013, the International Atomic Energy Agency, recommended that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant dump the toxic water into the ocean after lowering the level of radioactive materials to below the legal limit. Meanwhile, the plant could run out of storage space for contaminated water within two years. The report suggested covering the ground with asphalt to reduce the rain inflow and building giant tanks with more capacity, as well as installing special undersea filters to reduce the radioactivity of water that leaks into the sea. Currently, 400 metric tons of highly contaminated water is being produced at the site on a daily basis, much of it later flowing to the sea.

On December 21, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO),  detected a record 1.9 million becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances at No.2 reactor, the highest since the nuclear meltdown in March 2011. This occurred after high levels of radioactive cesium were detected in deeper groundwater at the No. 4 reactor. Previously, the highest level recorded was 1.8 million becquerels at the No. 1 reactor on December 2013. It’s believed that the radioactivity in the groundwater at reactor No. 2 has been increased since November.

On December 24,  2013, TEPCO reported it had found new leaks at the No. 1 reactor that released about 225 tons of radioactive water. The water in that area contained radioactive Strontium-90, that has a half-life of 28.8 years, at a level as high as 440 becquerels per liter.  A TEPCO representative feared the water may have already seeped into the ground.

TEPCO plans to start cleaning underground tunnels that are part of the sources of radioactive materials contaminating the groundwater. It will initially block the flow of tainted water between the damaged buildings and the tunnels. After instillation of pipes drainage of the contaminated water from the tunnels will start in April 2014.

Cleanup workers in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 

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