Kauai Radiation Monitors Detect Possible Fukushima Fallout

Yesterday, June 22nd, our network’s Monitoring Station on the island of Kauai, within the Hawaiian island chain, broadcast yet another Radiation Alert over the Network, at 8:08 A.M. local time – a 3 minute surge of 209, 456, and 186 CPM (Counts per Minute) respectively, accompanied by a generally elevated level leading up to that, and followed by another blip at 2:52 P.M.

The Kauai station indicates it was raining at the time, so we believe the precipitation brought down Fukushima fallout from the atmosphere.

This detection follows a similar, sustained elevated radiation level from the Kauai station on June 10th.  Other than this, since the nuclear disaster in Japan, the stations on our Network that we believe to have detected Fukushima radiation in significant and noticeable levels have been limited to a couple of high altitude stations in Colorado, and an obvious one in Japan itself.

So the question is, “What is so special about the Kauai station?“.  In answer, I think we what have here is “the perfect storm“:

  • First, of all the US stations on our network, Kauai is about the closest to Japan, some 3,500 miles away (Anchorage, AK is, too).  And as mentioned before, within the Hawaiian chain, Kauai is the “remote outpost” farthest north and west toward Japan, as compared to our stations on Maui and the Big Island.  Having said this, while proximity is important, weather patterns are of at least equal importance when considering radiation fallout.
  • The Kauai station, situated on the north shore in the community of Princeville, is in a very rainy place, getting about 60 to 80 inches per year.  Some other parts of the island are in a rain shadow.
  • The radiation detector on the Kauai station is an external probe model, and the wand itself is mounted outdoors, protected under the overhanging eaves of the structure, but readily available to “sniff” the air, which in this case is often quite wet and occasionally contaminated, apparently.
  • The Geiger-Mueller tube used in the probe is of the same pancake design as in the Inspector line of instruments, with a nominal 2″ diameter, finished out with a thin mica end window, categorizing this as an ultra-sensitive Geiger counter capable of detecting low levels of Alpha and Beta radiation, along with Gamma radiation.

So there is your “perfect storm” – in relatively close proximity, amidst a rainy environment, set up for outdoor monitoring, and using an ultra-sensitive detector.

The next order of business is to place additional monitoring stations around Kauai, in both high rainfall and rain shadow areas to provide confirming readings and to test out some of the theories offered above.  We also need to correlate detections with weather patterns and movements of the jet stream, combined with any verifiable “releases” of radiation from Fukushima.