Some Arizonans Freak Out Over Japan Reactor News, Others May Suffer Real Consequences of State's Past Radioactive Spills

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About 100 million gallons of radioactive water that spilled down the Puerco River into Arizona in 1979 -- and people are worried about a bit of smoke from Japan?
​Radiation from Japan shouldn't be your worry -- but maybe the sources of radiation here in Arizona should.

Health stores have reportedly seen a run on potassium iodide in the last couple of days. But experts including Aubrey Godwin, director of the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency, say Arizonans wouldn't need the radiation treatment even in a worst-case scenario. In any case, the radiation hasn't gotten here yet, he says.

But in response to our questions, (thanks to commenter ExpertShot, for the idea), Godwin acknowledges that various spots around the state may be polluted with higher-than-natural radiation from past uranium mining and spills.

"It would be sort of nice" to monitor radioactivity on the Navajo Nation, Godwin says. "The state can't afford to do anything."

As for the state's other potentially radioactive sites, "the people of the state will pay for whatever they want done."

The locations of all the sites isn't known, he adds. And as for the danger? He can't say, "since I don't know what the levels are."

The Navajo Nation, which straddles New Mexico and northeastern Arizona, was the site of the worst radioactive spill in U.S. history. A dam that broke on July 16, 1979, sent about 100 million gallons of radioactive water flowing down the Puerco River near Church Rock, New Mexico, and on into Arizona.

The reservation is a quasi-sovereign nation, under the authority of the U.S. government. That means there's only so much the state can do, Godwin says.

Besides the uranium-mining problem, the state's also supposed to be checking on the radiation from the x-ray equipment used in hospitals and clinics.

"We're behind on those inspections, also," he says.

So what does the agency actually do? Godwin says it registers all the users of x-ray, license all users of radioactive material -- except for nuclear power plants, which the feds oversee. If a radiation emergency ever came up -- knock on lead -- ARRA is supposed to respond.

The agency has a yearly budget of about $2 million in state funding, and also uses some federal funds, he says.

Okay -- now onto the fear part: Godwin and other state officials say Arizonans are "safe from dangerous radiation" blowing in from Japan and definitely shouldn't take potassium iodide.

A plume coming toward the southwestern United States hadn't reached Arizona when we talked with Godwin this morning. But the radiation in the plume "is not much different than people experience on a cross-country flight," a news release by three state agencies states. State and federal agencies say "thre is no risk expected to Arizona or its residents as a result of the situation in Japan."

"We are worried that people are taking medication that they don't need and could create problems for themselves," says state Department of Health Services Director Will Humble in the release.

Navajos and possibly other Arizonans, though, may have a real problem.

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2011-04-29/6-9p Flagstaff: Uranium Mining's Poisoned Past

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The Symposium reception will follow this event in theBeasley Art Gallery.

Award-winning journalist and guest author Judy Pasternak will talk about her book, Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed. Pasternak’s book offers a timely and compelling look at the history of uranium mining in America's southwest.

The evening will also include a panel of Northern Arizona University faculty and student researchers from across several academic disciplines—discussing the history, current university research, and public policy related to uranium mining.

Scheduled panelists include Dr. Jani Ingram (Associate Professor, Biochemistry); Dr. Abe Springer (Professor, Hydrogeology), Dr. Michael Amundson (Professor, History); and Dr. Linda Robyn (Associate Professor, Criminology and Criminal Justice). The panel will also include Hertha Woody, a native of Shiprock, NM who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s from NAU. Currently, she is the uranium campaign coordinator for the Grand Canyon Trust.

This timely event coincides with the Department of Interior’s request for public opinion and input on the proposed 20-year extension of the uranium mining moratorium in the Grand Canyon. The opportunity for public input will officially end on May 4, 2011. This informative talk will be one of the last opportunities to participate in a public discussion on this important topic before the May deadline.




Now the Arizona Republic is reporting that tiny amounts of radiation emitted by a stricken nuclear plant in Japan have been detected in Arizona.

The Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency says monitors west of Phoenix and in the city have detected Iodine-131 emitted from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant north of Tokyo. But the amounts are so small that they are only a fraction of normal background radiation people are exposed to each year.

Agency director Aubrey Godwin said Tuesday that most people receive from 100 to 300 millirems per year. The extra radiation detected is about 0.1 millirem.

Read more:

Was Godwin lying when he/she said we were "safe from dangerous radiation" blowing in from Japan . . . . ." or now when he/she says there is radioactiver particles BLOWING IN FROM JAPAN!

This person is reprehensible and will cause a great deal of mass confustion with his/her non-factual statements. This is NOT about his/her opinions - it's about getting the public the facts.



Aubrey Godwin, director of the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency, is just spreading propaganda like the rest of the useless hacks in the nuclear industry. What they don't say is that exposure to radiation "waves" from an external source and the ingestion of actual radioactive particles that emit radiation waves are two entirely different "risk" factors.

This is how they fool people into believing the "all is safe" line.

It is highly misleading to say what Aubrey said when the obvious danger from the Japanese disaster is not that the radioactive waves will emanate across the seas and expose people but that the particles of radioactive matetials will be blown in the wind or carried in the water or through the foods we import from Japan and be ingested by people here.

If you take a flight across country or get a chest x-ray, you are being exposed for the short time you are at that location or the doc has the x-ray machine's apature open.

If a particle of a dangerous radioactive isotope enters your body, it will remain in your body and radiate your tissues constantly as long as that particle is in your body - which, in many cases is forever.

People who are not educated in this matter will be convinced by Aubrey that they should not worry about contracting cancer or other diseases from the dangerous materials exuded from corporate industrial activity. They should be and they should shut down all plants or mines or businesses that engage in such risk without regard to the health of the individual citizen.

BTW - Arizona just approved licenses to mine uramium at the Grand Canyon - feel safer?




what's interesting is they never cared about the reactors sitting close to fault lines just to the west in Cali, or the largest reactor complex in the US just outside Phoenix...

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Since when did any agency be it state or federal tell the truth about anything that had to do with our health? Of course they have their spokesman the media to tell you that it's true. Dream on people, go back to sleep...there's nothing to see here. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. You're getting sleepy...sleepy. Just take their word for everything. They've always done right by you, haven't they?


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Pure Gibberish
Pure Gibberish

i dont care about anything at all. thats how i deal with everyday asshole humans and life on earth.


WhoKnows those Cali reactors were built to withstand an earthquake because they knew there were fault lines, now the older reactors back east are another story entirely.

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