Radioactive cloud over France soon

Meteo France radioactive cloud simulation

Météo France has simulation of Fukushima plume as it crosses Pacific, US and Atlantic to reach France

FIRST traces of the radioactive cloud from the Fukushima reactor explosion in Japan are expected to reach France in the next two days, although the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said radiation levels would not be high enough to cause a health risk.

The radioactive cloud has already crossed the Pacific Ocean, the US and the Atlantic and the first traces have arrived in the skies over Scandinavia. It is expected to swirl down over France on Wednesday.

It is made up of rare gases and radioactive particles. Although the gases can be inhaled, it is thought they will remain in the atmosphere. The very fine dust particles are expected to fall to earth and may be ingested and enter the food chain. They are mainly particles of radioactive iodine and Caesium 137, both by-products of uranium fission.

The radioactivity is a thousand times less than that spewed out by the Chernobyl explosion in April 1986. The details were kept secret from the French at the time, but reached levels of between one and 10 becquerels per cubic metre of air. The Fukushima cloud is estimated at a one-hundredth to a thousandth of a becquerel/m3.

A simulation of the cloud’s route is available through Météo France on the IRSN website here.

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