Monterey County

Dear Jon: Fukashima fallout concerns on the Central Coast, Part 2

EPA RADnet Monitors failed the Central Coast, says Watchdog

As a member of our Center for Investigative Action team I've been looking into the possibility of Fukashima fallout here on the West Coast. You've sent a lot of mail to me on the topic. Recent reports have also surfaced about radiation impacts to the Central Coast. In part two, I'll show you how terribly the EPA's RADnet monitors failed the Central Coast at the very time of the emergency in March/April 2011.

In part one, I told you that the Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to be the government's lead watchdog for monitoring air quality. In March and April, at the height of the Fukashima emergency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy were taking a lead role in the U.S. Government's response to the impacts to our shores.

University of California Santa Cruz lecturer Dan Hirsch has been a radiation expert for over 40 years and said the EPA was getting usurped by these agencies. He said that was the first sign something was strange at the top of the response chain.

Beyond that, Hirsch warns that before there's a rush to judgment over Fukashima fallout, do the science first. He maintains the radiation effects to us through eating fish are minimal -- maybe one in 100,000 cases.

In the days and weeks after the Fukashima meltdown in March of 2011, the EPA's reporting of radiation here on the central coast was sorely lacking, according to Hirsch.

3 photos that Hirsch shared tell this part of the story and are attached here. This Washington Post map shows the suspected path of the radioactive plume from Fukashima. Notice the plum was to hit on the central coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles in mid-March and April of 2011.

Now look at the map of the West Coast. The EPA has what they call "RADnet monitors." These test the air quality for radiation. The blue dots are the functional monitors at the time of the Fukashima accident.

The light blue dots are monitors that aren't working.

Right when the plume was supposed to hit, there were no functioning RADnet monitors on the Central Coast. Hirsch said the EPA was going to deploy portable monitors.

But look at the posted email from the EPA to air quality districts that were to monitor the portables. This was obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request by Hirsch. The highlighted sentence says quote, "EPA HQ has decided at this time to not deploy the deployable RADNET monitors to CA, OR and WA."

So at the height of the emergency the central coast, the very spot where the radioactive plume was supposed to hit the EPA had no working monitors for the air quality in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties. Why? Hirsch says Freedom of Information requests have gone unanswered.

So we really have no clue how much radiation was in the air on the central coast in the days and weeks after the Fukashima accident. Hirsch said we do know from a monitor in Bakersfield, before it broke in mid-march, that radioactive air quality was spiking.

But the agency and its systems for this type of an emergency, in a real world test, performed very poorly at a time they really need to be working to protect the citizenry.

I've made a call to the EPA for comment on this they've yet to respond.

Hirsch can only speculate that the EPA was worried about public hysteria over this and chose to now deploy the monitors.

Stay with Central Coast News and our Center for Investigative Action and Dear Jon segments as we continue investigate this.

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