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Radioactive Material Found in South Shore Channel

Cesium-137 found heightened but not dangerous levels in sediment samples taken in 2013 at Reynolds Channel, reports state.

Hurricane Sandy churned up pockets of a decades-old radioactive element, found in sediment samples taken from Reynolds Channel, according to Newsday.

Elevated levels of cesium-137 were discovered by a team of scientists from Queens College, Adelphi University, and University of Texas at Austin as part of a study on the effects of Hurricane Sandy, said the report.

Levels reached up to seven times the normal concentration, hitting up to 141 pico Curies per kilogram compared to the usual 20-30, Cecelia McHugh told Newsday.

"I think it's high but not terribly high," McHugh, a professor at Queens College School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, told Newsday, adding the "motion" in the water caused by Hurricane Sandy likely "kicked up" deposits.

Fallout from nuclear weapons testing sent elevated levels of the element into our environment in the 1950s and 1960s, but most of it has decayed, said the EPA. Levels of cesium-137 much higher than ones found in the study can increase risk of cancer, but the element can also used to treat cancer.

Other scientists said that a sampling of local fish would be a real indicator of levels and impacts of the element.

Nicholas S. Fisher, director of the Consortium for Inter-Disciplinary Environmental Research at Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, told Newsday it would be "highly unlikely" that the element would be at a concerning level, as a sampling of local wildlife would probably show lower levels of cesium-137.

Lead, copper, and zinc were also found in elevated levels in the sampling, said the report.

Sam February 14, 2014 at 02:20 PM
Can't wait to ride my stand up paddle board in Reynolds channel, good times.
Bob West February 14, 2014 at 04:28 PM
No wonder this is such a crazy place. Haven't seen any swans since the storm. Bummer. As for saying "the element can also used to treat cancer" that's like saying bullets can also be used to treat migraines. That's the kind of journalism we miss from not being able to access the Newsday web site. Thanks for saving us the trouble, Heather. BTW, looking down the Bay at the Rockaway "skyline" really shows what an ugly hodgepodge could be made of Long Beach's oceanfront.
Christopher Wendt February 14, 2014 at 08:13 PM
There maybe a lot more to this story. Cesium 137 is a radioisotope associated with fallout from aerial testing (detonation) of nuclear weapons anywhere on the planet. The U.S led the world with both Nuclear testing and the actual use of nuclear weapons against an enemy in war. Other nations, including the Soviet Union, the U.K, France, China and South Africa have also conducted atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1980. In my lifetime, we have had reportable problems with radioactive fallout contaminating milk, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and ground water. Now here we are 34 years after the last atmospheric nuclear detonation finding measurable amounts of cesium 137 in our coastal waterways, potentially having contaminated shellfish and finfish. But nuclear fallout did not just fall into our waterways. It covered wide areas, and eventually collected in the waterways at the end of their journey through our farms and backyards and woodlands, creeks, lakes, and canals. Little bits of radiation here and there. More and longer exposures all along the drainage pathways to the sea, most of it not apparent, perhaps not even measurable at any single moment, yet cumulatively entering our food and our bodies over years, decades. My point here is a question: Is Cesium 137 and all the other isotopes in nuclear fallout the "missing link" to some cancers that seems to have eluded us...forever?
Claudia Borecky February 15, 2014 at 08:53 AM
I think the fact that Cesium-137 is also used for cancer treatment is the more relevant fact. Someone should be checking into how South Shore Hospital and Long Beach Hospital dispose of Cesium-137. And could it possibly be that when flood waters came through Long Beach Hospital, it took away its supply of Cesium-137. I don't know the answer to these questions, but it seems more likely than coming from nuclear fallout.
danny-boy February 15, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Good question Claudia. Don't forget that anything getting into our bodies will end up down the toilet and some into the channel. The swans are still here, but I would avoid swimming in the channel after high tide. Sewer treatment plants should drain into the ocean.
Jack February 15, 2014 at 10:33 AM
This is a nothing story. The eggheads are using this as an excuse to get more funding to continue their acdemic scams. How is it they targeted a particular location? What extensive sampling was done in all waterways? How come the LB democrats are so silent on this? Are they afraid or waiting for someone to write talking points?
john peri Jr February 15, 2014 at 01:52 PM
Funny Bob (bullets for headaches). Cesium-137 In Vermont Milk. Source: http://www.infowars.com/radiation-detected-in-drinking-water-in-13-more-us-cities-cesium-137-in-vermont-milk/
Christopher Wendt February 15, 2014 at 05:23 PM
It is documented that radioactive fallout from the the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident in Japan is contaminating drinking water and milk in several locations across the U.S. and has been since 2011. See the immediately preceding post by john peri Jr, above, and follow the link he provided.
Hamburger February 15, 2014 at 09:14 PM
We R Fukt
Bob West February 15, 2014 at 11:08 PM
Long Beach Hospital never did cancer Radiation Therapy. The bigger point is that Newsday mentioning cancer treatment in this article is purely "yellow journalism," just something to scare people and think Newsday is an important, objective source of news. It's not. I Googled their story and no other papers picked it up, except for Patch. The only major sources of Cesium in the environment are nuclear weapons fallout and accidents at nuclear power plants. The amount of cesium in this sample is (unfortunately) commonly found in spots around the world. We can't undo the cesium deposited in the past. The amount used in medicine now to save lives is literally microscopic compared to Chernobyl or Fukushima. We might first want to look at the "new" uses of radioactive cesium-137 cobalt-60 that are purely for economic gain. An important example is the widespread use of irradiation on dried herbs and spices in prepared foods. Spices were fine for thousands of years without radiation, they just didn't last "forever." Another thing we should be concerned about is that the Cablevision/News 12/Newsday monopoly is the only major source of "news" on Long Island. By the way, pumping poison out to sea doesn't solve anything. When NYC used to dump their garbage out there, some would just wash right back ashore here in Long Beach. (@ Hamburger- as usual, you sum things up perfectly with just a few well-chosen words.)
Claudia Borecky February 16, 2014 at 06:51 AM
Please see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident The Goiânia accident was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on September 13, 1987, at Goiânia, in the Brazilian state of Goiás, after an old radiotherapy source was stolen from an abandoned hospital site in the city. It was subsequently handled by many people, resulting in four deaths. About 112,000 people were examined for radioactive contamination and 249 were found to have significant levels of radioactive material in or on their body.[1][2] In the cleanup operation, topsoil had to be removed from several sites, and several houses were demolished. All the objects from within those houses were removed and examined. Time magazine has identified the accident as one of the world's "worst nuclear disasters" and the International Atomic Energy Agency called it "one of the world's worst radiological incidents".[3][4] The radiation source in the Goiânia accident was a small capsule containing about 93 grams (3.3 oz) of highly radioactive caesium chloride (a caesium salt made with a radioisotope, caesium-137) encased in a shielding canister made of lead and steel. The source was positioned in a container of the wheel type, where the wheel turns inside the casing to move the source between the storage and irradiation positions.[1]
Hamburger February 16, 2014 at 06:56 AM
.....at which time the sample was put into the Gulf Stream, picked up by Sandy, And deposited into Reynolds channel? I wonder if the scientist in the Newsday article will ever be heard from again? #chemtrails
Christopher Wendt February 16, 2014 at 08:06 AM
@ Claudia re: lethal doses of Cesium radiation. The point of my initial comment, above, is not that Cesium-137 caused direct fatalities from radiation poisoning on LI, but that very small trace amounts have been deposited over 5 decades of nuclear testing, and much more recently following at least two nuclear power plant melt-downs. Although this radioactive "fallout" is hard to detect, or even undetectable, it does exist, and its effects can be subtle, meaning slow-working, but cumulative, meaning, adding-up to a worse result over time. The objective of posting this comment is the elusive link to cancers on LI, including what are sometimes thought of as being 'hot spots' with no discernible or plausibly definitive causative factor ever having been proven, yet. ...................................................................................................... What may we have done to ourselves? That is what I am asking in regard to the finding of Cesium-137 in Reynolds Channel.
Eddie February 16, 2014 at 08:26 AM
@Christopher, thanks for the common sense. So rare these days when it comes to emotionally-charged issues.
Bob West February 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM
re Goiania- I hope people read the reference you cite. It differs slightly from most narratives, but notes that the guy who handled the cesium the most, the junk dealer "Devair Ferreira himself survived despite receiving 7 Gy of radiation. He died in 1994 of cirrhosis aggravated by depression and binge drinking." As usual, "hamburger," a man of few words, answered much better than I ever could.
danny-boy February 17, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Bob, pumping the treated sewage into the ocean is not the same as what NYC was dumping decades ago - I believe that was sludge. Pumping the treated sewage to the ocean will move the source of high nitrogen levels (I'm no scientist, but there are other end products that are better off out of the restricted channel) out of the channel. Most are not quite poisons - they promote growth of sea weed.
Christopher Wendt February 17, 2014 at 08:26 AM
99% of the time, an ocean outfall pipe carries water almost fit for drinking. Occasionally, the plant may fail, or its capacity may be temporarily overwhelmed by the weather, in which cases, the outfall pipe would carry raw sewage to the ocean, instead of having that raw sewage flow directly into the local waterways (channels, bays, beaches).
Bob West February 17, 2014 at 01:35 PM
@ Christopher and danny-boy, I have strong feelings about your points, don't mean to side-step them, and maybe one of us should start a new topic to discuss them. A blog about our local environment would be great in LB Patch. But as for this thread, even the defective treatment plant had nothing to do with depositing the cesium and lead in the channel. Christopher, as you alluded to earlier, we really need to be more conscious of the potential far-future consequences of what we do today.
Dr. Carmine F. Vasile February 17, 2014 at 02:49 PM
Had Professor McHUgh, the EPA spokesperson or Director Fisher read BNL SERs dating back to 1947 @ www.bnl.gov/ewms/ser/default.asp they would have known Ground ZERO was Upton LI -- not western nuclear test ranges. In fact, Cs-137 levels up to 44 Billion pCi/kg were found in soil at BNL Site #SB37A-C (Table SSR in BNL’s Health Assessments). Other SERs show "terribly high" levels of Cs-137 in BNL urine samples, farm soil, Peconic River sediment, cow's milk, farm produce & irrigation/monitoring wells long before Long Island began making its famous radioactive wines. BNL also made and supplied Grumman in Bethpage & Calverton with radionuclides used to build Tokamaks, Pebble-Bed reactors to power nuclear ships, LEM, space craft & still classified weapons. Fallout from 29 fuel rod explosions at BNL from 1952 to 1957 blanketed Long Island with fallout levels far above those from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s. A person standing on the #SB37A-C hot-spot would receive a dose equal to the EPA’s Evacuation Standard of 50 mSv/yr (5 Rem) in about 17 minutes from Cs-137 alone, yet no evacuation was ordered. So don't believe anything the EPA says about the safety of nuclear waste; especially since they have never enforced the Radionuclides Rule since 1976, or passed an MCL for Radon even though a 200 pCi/L MCL was considered, according to a newly discovered Radon Report by the NYSDOH dated September 1990.
Dr. Carmine F. Vasile February 17, 2014 at 03:29 PM
Perhaps the source of the new find in Reynolds is from a 400 kilo deer loaded with 2,710 pCi/kg of Cs-137 that drowned in the Carmans River then floated to Reynolds Channel. [1] This scenario is just as unlikely as it coming from nuclear test ranges thousands of miles away. [1] IN BRIEF; Brookhaven Deer Shows High Radiation By Valerie Cotsalas, Published: February 24, 2002 "A deer believed killed by a vehicle on the William Floyd Parkway in January was found to be contaminated with the radioactive isotope cesium-137 at twice the highest levels ever seen at Brookhaven National Laboratory, lab authorities reported last week. The contamination level in the doe, found on Jan. 9, was 21 picocuries per gram. [2100 pCi/kg] The highest reading for a deer found on lab grounds before that date was 11 picocuries [1100 pCi/kg] in 1996. The discovery, announced in a public meeting at the lab on Feb. 14, raised concern among lab officials and environmental watchdogs. ''They have to figure out where it's coming from and that's the most important issue,'' said Scott Cullen, a lawyer for Standing for Truth About Radiation, an East End environmental group. Scientists said the deer may have jumped a seven-foot barbed-wire fence and grazed in an enclosed hazardous waste site on the 5,265-acre Brookhaven Laboratory campus. The area's soil was contaminated in the 1950's by water from cleaning operations at the lab's graphite research reactor, which has been shut down for decades. The deer might also have slipped through a gap in the gate's fence, said Timothy Green, a zoologist and the natural resource manager at the lab. Hunting is not allowed on Brookhaven Laboratory grounds, but hunters from the surrounding area can have their venison checked for contamination. ''Because this is of concern, we would like local hunters to provide a three- to four-pound sample of meat so we can sample it,'' Mr. Green said. It takes two to four weeks for results. Brookhaven Laboratory has been taking radiation readings from killed deer since 1992. The average contamination rate for 2001 is 1.64 picocuries per gram [1640 pCi/kg], Mr. Green said. That's down from 2.71 picocuries per gram [2710 pCi/kg] in 2000. (www.nytimes.com/2002/02/24/nyregion/in-brief-brookhaven-deer-shows-high-radiation.html)
Hamburger February 17, 2014 at 06:53 PM
Radioactive deer contaminating Long Island. Nice.
Bob West February 17, 2014 at 11:58 PM
I finally learned when to shut up.
Christopher Wendt February 18, 2014 at 07:18 AM
My issue and interest is not the specific find in Reynolds Channel, but the fact that radioactive Cesium, a man-made isotope, is in the LI environment, having gotten there by a succession of man-made events, including weapons testing, nuclear plant accidents, and the Upton BNL incident mentioned above. Radiation and its effects are cumulative. My point is that perhaps the cumulative effects of decades of radioactive contamination, even at undetectable levels, may have played a contributing role in the incidence of cancer, here. To that point, while nuclear plant explosions or melt-downs present clear and present dangers, locally, the quiet, longer lasting and lingering effects of radiation releases into the atmosphere should also be feared for their potential to inflict damage for many years into the future, over vast areas of our planet.

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