Season 2 of National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers TV series continues tonight with episode 6, “Escape from New York,” which airs at 9 PM ET. From the Nat Geo Channel webpage for the TV show:
With recent storms such as Sandy, New Yorkers now more than ever need to have escape plans in case they need to flee. NGC cameras follow three New Yorkers as they plot their routes out of the city, literally escaping the grid to reach safety.
Once again, the National Geographic Channel provided me with an advanced screening opportunity of the episode, and it didn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact, it really hit close to home as I too live in a large U.S. city (Chicago).
There were three preppers featured in “Escape from New York.” First up was Cameron Moore in Brooklyn, a college student studying for medical school. Cameron told viewers:
I’m preparing for a meltdown at the Indian Point Nuclear Facility.
Next up was Margaret Ling in Harlem, who told viewers:
I’m preparing for a catastrophic hurricane.
Finally, there’s Jay, a Wall Street bond trader, who explained:
I’m preparing for another terrorist attack.
All three preppers fear what might happen in New York City should TSHTF. From the show:
That’s why for these three New York preppers, at the first sign of trouble, survival comes down to one objective.
CAMERON: Get out of New York City.
JAY: Leaving Manhattan as soon as possible.
MARGARET: Grab my bag and just jet out.
They’ve also paired with a mentor to help them refine their plan. Krav Maga instructor Matan Gavish, preparedness expert Aton Edwards, and urban survivalist Shane Hobel. Now, over the course of one night, all three preppers will put their bug out plans into action for the first time and attempt to escape New York.
The first prepper introduced in the episode was Margaret Ling. In this segment, Margaret, who wears a backpack full of survival supplies every day, revealed that she was concerned about a major hurricane hitting the “Big Apple.” Ling told viewers:
I know I don’t want to be sent to a shelter. And I plan to get out of the city and make my way up to the mountains in upstate New York close to Canada. The last and worst case scenario is walking the entire distance to safety up in the mountains.
Margaret is paired with Krav Maga Academy founder and chief instructor Matan Gavish to help get her prepared.
“Doomsday Preppers: Lollipop Lolliprep”
Nat Geo Channel Video
The second prepper the show focused on was Cameron Moore. In this segment, Cameron shared his fears about an Indian Point Nuclear Facility meltdown and the potential for radiation escaping the facility. He informed viewers:
When TSHTF, I will bug out.
Cameron worked with International Preparedness Network executive director Aton Edwards to help him with his preps.
Finally, there’s Jay (no surname given). Jay was in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. And the Wall Street bond trader realizes New York City remains an attractive terrorist target. He told viewers:
I don’t think it’s going to end. I don’t think that we’re going to wake up all of a sudden one day and all of a sudden we’re not going to be a target to terrorists around the world. A dirty bomb is, without question, an option for terrorists out there.
From the show:
If terrorists detonate dirty bombs across Manhattan, as Jay fears, he’s instructed his wife Mindy and their 6-year-old daughter to get ready to flee the city.
Should TSHTF, Jay’s goal is to get out of the financial district and get back to his family as soon as possible. Jay paired up with Mountain Scout Survival School founder and instructor Shane Hobel to come up with a plan to make that happen.
With the three preppers coming from the same area of the country and attempting a simultaneous bug out, this particular episode was more like a TV special. A TV special for urban preppers. According to the U.S. Census earlier this year, more Americans are living in cities now than ever before. And perhaps it’s because I live in a major American city that I found “Escape from New York” particularly interesting. Although that bike “borrowing” bit was a little over the top. Still, good stuff overall.
And I applaud National Geographic Channel for not removing Doomsday Preppers from the air due to some in the press possibly trying to link preppers with last week’s school shooting.
Blamethrowers. Precisely what the world needs more of these days.
Enjoy tonight’s episode. For more information, please visit the Doomsday Preppers page on the National Geographic Channel website here.
I recently watched the latest installment of National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers TV series, “The Time of Reckoning,” which aired Tuesday night, November 27. Episode 4 of season 2 featured the prepping team of Dr. Tom Perez, a retired chiropractor, and Steven M. Vanasse, a radiation safety officer, both from Houston, Texas.
Dr. Tom Perez
The first part of the show focused on the Perez family. Dr. Perez is married to wife Monica and the couple have thee children, Katarina (17-years-old), Thomas (12), and Matthew (6). According to Tom:
I’m preparing for a terroristic attack.
From the show:
Tom fears the dirty bomb- an everyday explosive like dynamite or TNT packed with radioactive material. Once detonated, its blast can spread radiation anywhere from a city block to several square miles. But that radioactive debris could lodge in buildings, and chemically-bind with concrete and asphalt, making decontaminating a city difficult and possibly forcing affected neighborhoods to be abandoned… A single dirty bomb could contaminate an area 30 times the size of the initial blast site which could cover up to 20 city blocks. The radiation would not be detected by human senses, and the effect of exposure could be immediate.
In the event of a dirty bomb detonation in Houston, the family would bug out to their 700-acre compound- “The Alamo”- 300 miles away in Brackettville, Texas.
“Doomsday Preppers: Doomsday Alamo”
Nat Geo Channel Video
Steven M. Vanasse
Later on in the show viewers were introduced to Steven Vanasse, Tom’s prepping partner. Steven is married to Gobriella Gubimelli and they have a daughter, Victoria Vanasse. According to Steve:
I’m preparing for a dirty bomb blast in the city of Houston.
In the event of such an attack, the Vanasse family plans on bugging out of Houston and meeting up with the Perez family at “The Alamo.”
Tom is the firearms expert. Steve is the radiation expert. And both are training the members of their young families to be preppers.
My thoughts about Doomsday Preppers “The Time of Reckoning”:
• Both the Perez and Vanasse families plan on bugging out of Houston in the event of a dirty bomb explosion. A number of viewers probably wondered why they wouldn’t just bug in, seeing that this type of weapon is intended to cause fear more than casualties and fleeing Greater Houston and a good portion of its 6.08 million residents could be very difficult- if not impossible- in such a situation. From the show:
Tom’s bug-out route bypasses over 3,000 miles of Houston’s highways, and once on the open road, they travel due west to their safe house- 300 miles away in Brackettville, Texas… It’s normally a 6-hour drive to Tom’s compound.
I’m guessing that drive would take significantly longer with a lot of other Houstonians on the road after a dirty bomb attack, and that Tom and Steve would rather not shelter-in-place because of the perceived danger from civil strife and other sorts of chaos that could happen in Houston after such an event. Considering the extent these guys have planned and prepped, I’d be surprised if bugging in wasn’t a viable option for them.
• “The Alamo” is an impressive bug-out location. When I first heard that Tom Perez had stockpiled 46,000 rounds of ammunition, I was kind of surprised at the large number. However, upon thinking the situation through (the Perez family alone consists of 5 preppers and their firearms) and being familiar with a number of recommendations being circulated in prepper/survivalist circles as to how much ammo should be stored for a SHTF event, that amount didn’t seem so astronomical anymore.
• On the other hand, when it was revealed that the Perez family only had 9 months of food socked away at the retreat, I was somewhat shocked. Considering all the preps Dr. Perez had already taken care of, I would have thought he’d have at least a year’s worth of food stored- if not more- at “The Alamo.” I’d seriously-consider buying more food before an armored car, as Dr. Perez said they were looking into at the end of the episode.
• When I heard Tom say:
I also have taken the liberty of contaminating 10 percent of my food and water supply if it is ever compromised. I am the only one that knows which supplies are affected.
I was initially surprised (concerned?) here too. But once I thought the situation through yet again, should this prepper network ever get dislodged from “The Alamo” by raiders, it would probably just be a matter of time before the unwelcomed “guests” get sick, giving the Perez and Vanasse families the opportunity to retake their retreat.
• I have to believe there’s a certain amount of distrust among the law enforcement community when it comes to preppers/survivalists. I thought it was a good idea for the Perez family to coordinate their preparedness efforts with local law enforcement. By doing this, not only did they establish a relationship with them- perhaps decreasing the chance they might be seen as dangerous “kooks” by the police- but they even received some helpful advice during their combined drill with the off-duty officers from the local sheriff’s department. For example, Deputy Ramon Gutierrez pointed out that the Perez family are less vulnerable if they stay in the limestone structures during an attack, and Deputy Forrest Spence emphasized family members need to be real aggressive when confronting a threat.
• I was impressed that Tom taught 17-year-old Kat, 12-year-old Tommy, and 6-year-old Matthew how to shoot, among other things. From the show:
Matthew, who’s been shooting since the age of 4, can hit a target from 100 yards away with his child-size sniper rifle.
Cutest little sniper you ever did see.
• Question- What’s up with Matthew’s boots? They look gargantuan on him.
• Another question- Is it just me or does Steven Vanasse look a lot like a younger version of actor Randy Quaid?
• The way the relationship between Steve and daughter Victoria played out in the episode was funny. Steve would say something about how proud he was of Victoria and how she’s coming on board with the prepping, and the young lady would indicate otherwise. In one scene, Steve brought her shooting for the first time at an indoor gun range. Victoria gave it a try- and it looked like she was a natural at it. Steve was just beaming about Victoria’s performance. Victoria tells viewers she probably won’t go shooting again. I had to chuckle when I saw that. A lot of my friends were just like that at that age. I was an angel, of course.
• The National Geographic Channel definitely got their shock value’s worth from this installment. If the Molotov cocktails and slaying of the goat weren’t enough (or Steve’s munching on its cooked eye), Tom Perez almost suffering permanent injury to his hearing from Steve firing his rifle in the hunting blind really took the cake. Cuidado, Esteban!
“The Time of Reckoning” was really interesting to watch, especially as Tom Perez and Steve Vanasse appear to be way ahead of most of their prepping contemporaries. This was apparent in the score they received from Practical Preppers LLC right before the show wrapped-up. But the episode was also painful to watch at times. Even more painful to make by the looks of things.
On Monday, I previewed episode number 6, “Nine Meals Away from Anarchy,” of the National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers. This afternoon, I’ll be doing my review of the episode.
The show focused on three prepper groups this past Tuesday. In order of appearance:
Mike Mester and family, suburb of Atlanta, Georgia
“We’re preparing for civil unrest caused by a global economic collapse.”
Preston White, central Colorado
“Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.”
Riley Cook and family, Silverthorne, Colorado
“I’m preparing my family to survive a polar shift.”
Here are my thoughts about episode 6 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:
Mike Mester and family
Mike Mester is a contractor who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, kids, and dogs. Prepping is a way of life for the entire family, so much so that they’ve been doing it for almost a decade. Mike warned:
The way the United States economy works today is not sustainable. We were once the greatest creditor in the world. Now, we are the greatest debtor. Where will all the money come from? Look at the news, look at the papers. Police departments cut. Fire departments cut. What will we do when there’s no one there?
According to the show:
Mike believes that as the global economy falters, the U.S. economy will fall deeper and deeper into debt. Banks will close. Power will go out. Basic services will grind to a halt.
Which led Mike to ask:
If the grocery shelves are empty, you’re only nine meals away from anarchy. What will happen then? Will you be prepared?
It’s revealed that oldest son Ryan is away at college 250 miles away. Mike declared:
My wife and I, our home is our family. That’s why we want to ensure that we get all our children home when things collapse. We will go to any extent to ensure their safety.
As a result, Ryan’s parents provided him with a “get home” bag full of supplies, including food and water, that will support him for 4 days. In case their son is unable to make it back to the Mester household by himself, his parents have a backup plan in place. Mike explained:
Heaven forbid our oldest boy can’t make it home. That’s why we have plans to retrieve him in 30 days.
From the show:
Mike believes that after an economic collapse, rioting will spread from urban centers in waves, with violence cresting in the first few weeks. So 30 days is a key timeframe for braving the road.
Mr. Mester suspects gasoline will be hard to come by in an economic collapse, so he stores 50 gallons of it out in his garage. He replenishes his stockpile every 3 months to keep the gas fresh. Viewers were also informed in the episode:
He is also teaching his son Kyle methods for stealing gasoline, if necessary.
Nice. How about:
He is also teaching his son Kyle methods for recovering gasoline from abandoned/disabled vehicles in a societal collapse.
It’s just not the humans who are prepping in the Mester household. Their two German Shepherd dogs, Storm and Thunder, both have bug-out bags and were later shown to be receiving training for protecting the home and family.
Putting his logistician background to good work, Mike has amassed and organized an impressive stockpile of food and water. It’s revealed 3 rooms of his 4,500 square-foot house are dedicated to food storage. He estimated they have 2 years of food for 10 people. Viewers are also informed:
Mike stores thousands of cans, sometimes for years past their expiration date. Expired food might not taste good, but Mike knows it could keep his family alive in a crisis.
There’s a difference between shelf life and life-sustaining. In Third World countries, they use rancid cooking oil. Certainly, it will not hurt you.
Another interesting bit of info provided about the Mester family’s preps was the alternative fuel source they were shown fabricating and stockpiling. They collect dead leaves in the fall and combine them with newspaper to create an alternative fuel source. The mixture is soaked in water for 5 days, the slurry is compressed to remove the liquid, and briquettes are formed and air-dried for a week to serve as emergency heating and cooking sources. Very nice.
Like a number of other suburban preppers, Mike and his family recognize the potential threats from living so close to a major American city should a SHTF situation arise- and are preparing accordingly. Mike said:
Security is an important part of the prepper’s lifestyle. If there’s an economic collapse, civil unrest will likely ensue the metropolitan areas, then spread out to the suburbs. Downtown Atlanta is only 45 miles away. We don’t know how fast that civil unrest will get to us, but we certainly will be prepared if it does.
The Mester family possesses a battery of home-defense firearms and a stockpile of ammunition, and trains monthly at the shooting range.
Mike left viewers with this thought:
If you think the government’s going to be there, are you going to sit back and wait for the cavalry? They may never come. So what are you going to do about it? Why don’t you start to prepare? Because it’s your personal responsibility.
In the “Expert Assessment” portion of the Mester segment, Practical Preppers LLC recommended:
You need to put your leadership skills to use in your community. Getting your neighbors aware of, and involved in your prepping, will only make your family more secure in a crisis situation.
Excellent advice. But I’d add, that depends on the neighbors. I’ve lived next to my share of wackjobs over the years. And here in Chicago, where a good number of the residents have bought into the notion of “cradle-to-grave” care and protection by the Nanny State, preppers/survivalists and firearm owners are looked upon with intense suspicion, if not disgust.
Finally, in the “Doomsday Preppers Update” portion, Mike Mester indicated that the family was planning to grow a 1,000 square foot garden in their backyard. Those who lived in Russia in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse will attest to how important a food garden is when society breaks down.
Preston White is a web developer who lives in central Colorado. The recent disaster at the Fukushima power plant in Japan got him prepping. From the show:
Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.
People need to know Japan should be evacuated. California, Oregon, and Washington should be evacuated.
Convinced of this radioactive contamination, White makes putting together a seed bank a top priority. From the episode:
Believing that radioactive fallout from Japan will contaminate the American food chain, Preston is creating a seed bank, a store of fruit and vegetable seeds that can be used to grow radiation-free food in a post-apocalyptic world.
White has amassed so many seeds, he is shown displaying 11,000 different types for viewers. He explained:
A non-prepper might look at my supply and say, “Are you kidding me?” But if something happens- I win this game. People that aren’t prepared- they lose this game.
In the episode, Preston White worked with other preppers (Shane Anderson, Richard Dudas) to plant his seeds and create a radiation-free farm. A key component to the farm is the biosphere tent system, which acts as barrier to radioactive fallout while allowing enough light in to grow food year-round. In addition, these tents can be broken down/set up fast and easily transported should the situation call for it.
Besides growing food, these tents were also purchased so people can live in them. At this point in the episode, local Russell Preister brought in and demonstrated an HHO generator/home heater prototype that would hopefully provide energy, clean radiation-free water, and purified oxygen for the plant and human occupants. According to the show:
The HHO generator can turn water into highly-flammable gas by using electrolysis to separate water’s hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It can literally turn water into fire… HHO technology has become increasingly popular, with plans to build home generators readily available on the Internet.
Like the Mester family, White has a battery of home-defense firearms. He said:
If you’re a prepper, there’s 4 guns to have. You’ve got a 30-06 to kill a deer, shotgun, 22 rifle to protect your home, and a 9mm pistol. A sidearm for close contact. The guns I chose, I chose for defense.
Hope he meant to say that 22 rifle is a .223.
After learning a valuable lesson about violating operational security (OPSEC), White remarked:
I was faced with death. Decided I wasn’t going to be a victim. It changed my life the way I live tomorrow. I can affect my picture, and that’s what you do by prepping.
In the “Doomsday Preppers Update” portion of this segment, Preston said:
I’m hoping in the future to pick up a motor home and make it into a really good bug-out vehicle.
I always thought a mobile bug-out location was a neat idea. For those who can’t afford a fixed BOL, it might be worth investigating.
Riley Cook and family
Riley Cook is a welder living in Silverthorne, Colorado, with his wife and four kids. According to the show:
Riley believes that during his lifetime, there will be a catastrophic polar shift, a movement of the Earth’s North and South Poles along the Earth’s mantle. And this drastic geological change will unleash a litany of natural disasters.
The Cook family began seriously prepping 5 years ago. It was revealed they have already spent around $300,000 on prepping.
Prepping has become such an integral part of their lives, the Cook family’s welding shop recently became a disaster shelter building business. Because they construct customized underground bunkers, all sorts of features can be incorporated into a project. Even an incinerator to eliminate pesky intruders. Riley explained:
That’s what you get when you combine a prepper and a welder.
Getting back to the episode:
A bunker buried at a distant bug-out location is only effective if you can get to it. Riley expects that the catastrophic nature of a polar shift will cause severe fuel shortages. So he has used his expert welding skills to solve the problem of transportation. His latest prepping tool is a custom-made Cook original that he hopes will allow his family to carry supplies without needing a car or truck.
Riley designed and built a 100 lb. hand-crafted aluminum cart that allows him to haul almost 9 times his body weight by distributing loads like a horse and cart. In this case, Riley is the horse. It’s also water-tight and can float in a body of water. Pretty cool.
Not surprisingly, the Cook family has an underground survival shelter located at 11,200 feet in the Colorado mountains 10 miles from civilization. During the episode, Riley, his wife Sara(h?), and their kids are shown practicing bugging-out in severe weather up an unplowed, snow-covered mountain pass to the bunker. From the show:
Emergency preparedness experts suggest that you practice evacuating your home at least twice a year, and plot alternate routes in case roads become impassable.
The Cook family eventually made it to their “cabin,” and proceeded to hunker down for the remainder of their stay.
Overall, a really good episode. As I said in my preview earlier in the week, a lot of viewers can probably relate to the Mester family in the suburbs, the Cook family in the small town, and even Preston White out in central Colorado. And this week, a number of ideas (food gardens, HHO generators/home heaters, motor homes, etcetera) were introduced that might be worth looking into.
I wish these three prepper groups success in their endeavors.
New episodes of Doomsday Preppers air on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday nights at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific Time. For more information, go to the Nat Geo Channel website here.
And before I forget, have you seen the new Doomsday Preppers TV commercial yet? When I first heard it, I thought it sounded so similar to the beverage commercials from the late 70s/early 80s it had me wondering if the original crew hadn’t been hired to produce it…
“I’m a Prepper, You’re a Prepper”
Speaking of Japan’s nuclear crisis this morning, it’s being reported that Japanese-based employees of global investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs have been told to stay put- or else they risk losing their jobs. From CNBC.com Senior Editor John Carney on the CNBC website yesterday:
At least four Goldman Sachs executives flew into Japan last week to speak with nervous ex-pat employees about radiation fears, according to a person familiar with the situation. They also conveyed another message: don’t leave Japan and don’t leave Tokyo.
Employees at the investment bank’s Japan offices are worried about radiation levels affecting their families, the person said. Many were asking if they could temporarily relocate out of the country or perhaps move to a location in southern Japan, farther away from troubled nuclear power plants. They were told that they should not leave Tokyo, according to the person.
Several meetings were held last week between senior Goldman executives and Tokyo-based employees. At least one meeting was held in a large conference room on one of the five floors of the Mori Tower in Tokyo, which houses Goldman’s offices in Japan. Senior executives attending the meeting included Michael Evans, the firm’s head of emerging markets and Asia chairman, and Ed Forst, the co-head of Goldman’s investment management division. Lloyd Blankfein was testifying in the insider-trading case against Raj Rajaratnam last week.
“The message was clear: no one is to leave. If you do leave, you can’t come back and expect to still work for Goldman,” the person said.
Carney added that according to another person at Goldman Sachs’ Tokyo offices, most employees have opted to stay.
Carney, John. “Goldman Sachs Employees Told Not to Leave Japan.” CNBC.com. 28 Mar. 2011. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/42304574). 29 Mar. 2011.
Radiation from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plant has been detected in a growing number of states. Yet government officials keep telling the American public they shouldn’t be worried. From The Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Clayton yesterday:
Elevated yet still very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis have now been detected in the air or water in more than a dozen US states and three territories, federal and local authorities say.
Higher than usual levels of radiation were detected by 12 monitoring stations in Alaska, Alabama, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, and Washington State over the past week and sent to Environmental Protection Agency scientists for detailed laboratory analysis, the agency said in a release Monday.
Unusual, yet still very low “trace amounts” of radiation, were also reported in Massachusetts rain water and by state officials and nuclear power plant radiation sensors in Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania, the Associated Press and Reuters reported.
“Some of the filter results show levels slightly higher than those found by EPA monitors last week and a Department of Energy monitor the week before,” the EPA said in its statement Monday. “These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are still far below levels of public health concern.”
The Environmental Protection Agency also announced that it will be monitoring U.S. milk supplies for radiation more often than usual. From the UPI this morning:
A U.S. agency began checking milk supplies as radiation from Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant was detected in the air and water in more than a dozen states.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it typically monitored milk for radiation every three months but would now begin the testing “immediately.”
Clayton, Mark. “Traces of Japanese radiation detected in 13 US states.” The Christian Science Monitor. 28 Mar. 2011. (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0328/Traces-of-Japanese-radiation-detected-in-13-US-states). 29 Mar. 2011.
“U.S. safety after Japanese nuclear crisis.” UPI.com. 29 Mar. 2011. (http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/03/29/US-safety-after-Japanese-nuclear-crisis/UPI-71571301387400/). 29 Mar. 2011.
Radiation from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plant is being reported in several West Coast states. From CNN’s Elizabeth Landau this morning:
Colorado and Oregon have joined several other Western states in reporting trace amounts of radioactive particles that have likely drifted about 5,000 miles from a quake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan, officials say…
Sampling from a monitor in Colorado — part of a national network of stations on the lookout for radioactivity — detected miniscule amounts of iodine-131, a radioactive form of iodine, the state’s public health and environmental department said Wednesday in a press release.
On the same day in Portland, Oregon, tiny quantities of iodine-131 were also detected by an Environmental Protection Agency air monitor, Oregon public health officials said.
Small amounts of radioactive material were detected Wednesday, too, in Hawaii — just as they had a day earlier, according to the EPA. But while they were above the historical and background norm, the levels weren’t considered harmful to human health.
Washington and California previously reported low levels of radioactive isotopes that likely came from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has been releasing radioactive particles into the air since its cooling and other systems were damaged by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11. Efforts continued Thursday to cool down the spent nuclear fuel rods, prevent a further meltdown of the plant’s six reactor cores and curb the release of additional radioactive material.
Federal authorities insist that Americans need not be concerned about the levels of radiation reaching the United States. From the article:
But, on a portion of its website dedicated to tracking such radiation, the Environmental Protection Agency noted Wednesday that these and other readings “show typical fluctuation in background radiation levels” and — thus far — “are far below levels of concern.”
Americans typically get exposure to radiation from natural sources such as the sun, bricks and rocks that are about 100,000 times higher than what has been detected in the United States.
There is no need for anyone as a precautionary measure to take potassium iodide, a medication that can counter the harmful effects of iodine-131, health officials say.
Landau, Elizabeth. “More U.S. states find traces of radiation from Japan.” CNN.com. 24 Mar. 2011. (http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/03/23/colorado.oregon.radiation/). 24 Mar. 2011.
Should Americans be worried about the radiation threat from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant?
U.S. President Barack Obama isn’t. On Tuesday, Obama told a Pittsburgh television station that he’s not worried about radiation from the damaged nuclear power plant reaching the United States. CBS affiliate KDKA-TV Channel 2 political editor Jon Delano asked the President, “Are you at all worried about radiation from Japan reaching American shores?” Obama’s reply?:
No. I’ve been assured that it… any nuclear release dissipates by the time it gets even to Hawaii, much less to the mainland of the United States.
Experts quoted in the mainstream media seem to agree with this assessment. From ABC News’ Ned Potter this morning:
To those of us here who might worry, nuclear engineers and meteorologists said the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, is safe.
“These releases from the plant, because they’re not elevated, because they’re not getting up high in the atmosphere, they won’t travel very far,” said Kathryn Higley, director of the department of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University. “There are so many factors in our favor. Rain will knock it down. There are 5,000 miles of ocean between us and Japan. It will be diluted, it will mix with sea spray, long before it gets remotely close to us.”
One computer model suggested the radiation won’t travel very far from Japan. Potter wrote:
But Jeff Masters, a former meteorologist at the National Weather Service who now works at Wunderground.com, ran a computer model and concluded that radiation would not get very far.
“Ground-level releases of radioactivity are typically not able to be transported long distances in significant quantities, since most of the material settles to the ground a few kilometers from the source,” he wrote.
“Given that the radioactivity has to travel 3,000 miles to reach Anchorage, Alaska, and 5,000 miles to reach California, a very large amount of dilution will occur, along with potential loss due to rain-out.
“Any radiation at current levels of emission that might reach these places may not even be detectable,” he said, “much less be a threat to human health.”
And if the worst-case scenario takes place, where radioactive particles are carried by upper-level winds to American shores? From the piece:
In that case, “we will get some fallout on the West Coast 2-3 days after its release in Japan,” said Edward Morse, a nuclear engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, in an e-mail to ABC News. “The levels will not be threatening to life and health but they will be observable.”
“If any radiation were to make it here, it would be merely background levels,”said Jere Jenkins, the director of Radiation Laboratories at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. “Nothing for people on the West Coast or people in the United States to be concerned about.”
Higley said she has been spending a lot of time over the last few days urging calm.
“We have monitoring capability here in the U.S. that is extraordinarily sensitive. We can detect radiation that is like a hundred-thousandth of what you get from a regular X-ray, and we don’t expect to see even that.
“For the stuff to travel, it has to be picked up by the wind,” she said, “higher-level winds that have global distribution. And that’s just not happening. This is a little like a campfire — the smoke is all near the ground.”
Despite these assurances, some are still concerned about the threat. Jim Meyers and Ashley Martella wrote Tuesday on the news site Newsmax.com:
If a radiation cloud from Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors eventually reaches the western United States, it could pose a threat to American crops and the people who eat them, nationally known neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D., tells Newsmax.
Dr. Blaylock also says the radiation could pose a cancer risk, and explains steps to take to protect against the damaging effects of radiation exposure.
Blaylock is a health practitioner, lecturer, and editor of Newsmax.com’s “Blaylock Wellness Report.” His books include “Nuclear Sunrise,” which examines the threat nuclear radiation poses…
Prevailing winds in the area of the stricken Japanese reactors have been heading east into the Pacific, toward the Western Hemisphere. Dr. Blaylock was asked about the threat to Americans if radiation from the reactors eventually does reach Hawaii or the West Coast of America.
“Most of the health risks are not going to be due to acute radiation poisoning,” he tells Newsmax. “It’s going to be a risk of increased cancer.
“When we look at Chernobyl, most of West Germany was heavily contaminated. Norway, Sweden. Hungary was terribly contaminated. The radiation was taken up into the plants. The food was radioactive. They took the milk and turned it into cheese. The cheese was radioactive.
“That’s the big danger, the crops in this country being contaminated, the milk in particular, with Strontium 90. That radiation is incorporated into the bones and stays for a lifetime.”
Last night, the New York Times’ William J. Broad reported on a U.N. forecast projecting the radiation plume could reach Southern California by Friday. Broad wrote:
A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday.
Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule.
The projection, by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna, gives no information about actual radiation levels but only shows how a radioactive plume would probably move and disperse.
The forecast, calculated Tuesday, is based on patterns of Pacific winds at that time and the predicted path is likely to change as weather patterns shift.
On Sunday, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it expected that no “harmful levels of radioactivity” would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.”
You can view an interactive map of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s forecast on the New York Times website here.
“Obama: Radiation from Japan won’t reach Hawaii.” CBS News. 15 Mar. 2011. (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7359774n). 17. Mar. 2011.
Potter, Ned. “Japan’s Nuclear Crisis: United States Safe From Radiation, Say Engineers.” ABC News. 17 Mar. 2011. (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/japan-nuclear-plant-radiation-united-states-risk-engineers/story?id=13150089&page=1). 17 Mar. 2011.
Martella, Ashley and Meyers, Jim. “Dr. Blaylock: Japanese Radiation Could Pose Risk to US.” Newsmax.com. 15 Mar. 2011. (http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/blaylock-radiation-us-japan/2011/03/15/id/389474). 17 Mar. 2011.
Broad, William J. “Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume.” New York Times. 16 Mar. 2011. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/science/17plume.html?hp). 17 Mar. 2011.
Apparently, there’s a run on radiation pills in Hawaii and in some parts of the West Coast. FOX News is reporting on their website today:
U.S. drug stores are reporting a sudden increase in sales of over-the-counter anti-radiation pills, despite assurances from health officials that Americans are not at risk from Japanese nuclear reactors.
Potassium iodide pills, which prevent against radiation poisoning of the thyroid gland, are reportedly flying off the shelves at drug stores in at least three West Coast states — Oregon, California and Hawaii — according to several local press accounts.
The Wall Street Journal also reports that one Virginia-based supplier, Anbex Inc., sold out of its entire supply of 10,000 14-tablet packages on Saturday.
Alan Morris, president of the company, reportedly said that the supplier is receiving about three orders a minute for $10 packages of its Iosat pills.
“Those who don’t get it are crying. They’re terrified,” Morris told the newspaper.
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