Reminder: Radiation-surveying helicopter flights under way

(Photo tweeted by @cpatchworks)
We’re not sure if this is the helicopter that’s been flying low over parts of West Seattle this morning, from Alki to Fauntleroy – haven’t gotten a close enough look yet – but in case you missed the advisory we published on Friday, here it is: A chopper based at Boeing Field is flying over local urban areas to get a baseline reading on “normal” radiation levels, not related to the Japan disaster, but as part of a two-year-old federal project. If you get a close look at the low-flying chopper, you can compare it to the photo on this page.

50 Replies to "Reminder: Radiation-surveying helicopter flights under way"

  • Neighbor July 11, 2011 (11:32 am)

    We’ve all been dosed at least 10 times from Japan the past few months. We all have fuel fleas as they are called, you know the really great little, little tiny bits that stay around for a very long time. Why didn’t they start this the day Japan had multiple melt downs? If they were really after normal readings they would have done fly overs pre-melt down and subsequent fly overs to access the increase in radiation. Out of sight out of mind and by all means don’t tell the public the truth.

  • old timer July 11, 2011 (11:56 am)

    Now, just how are they going to separate the Fukishima
    event from whatever radiation levels they are now getting?
    Is this baseline to include the Japanese radiation which is still being generated?
    (It has not been ‘resolved’ no matter MSM silence on the matter.)
    Is this radiation loaded reading to be the “new” normal?
    Not that there is much we can do about it, still and all it would be nice to know.

  • coffee July 11, 2011 (1:25 pm)

    This is really the least of my worries. How about the amount of chemicals in our food stream, air, produced by cars, etc. Maybe I will glow at night and then I don’t have to have a huge electric bill with all my lights on?

  • BB July 11, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    It is the same helicopter. Saw it pass over 4x on a walk in Seaview

  • Nani July 11, 2011 (2:33 pm)

    One’s over Roxbury Safeway / White Center area right now.

  • Admiral935 July 11, 2011 (3:06 pm)

    It just flew south at California and Admiral, possible running parallel with Cali (one block West of).

  • The Velvet Bulldog July 11, 2011 (3:08 pm)

    It’s passing over Morgan Junction, shakin’ the house. Kinda cool actually.

  • sue July 11, 2011 (3:09 pm)

    2 fly-by’s just now directly over my house, which is just up the hill from the Fauntleroy ferry, very low-flying, big, noisy copter!

  • Kjb July 11, 2011 (3:23 pm)

    I am in the junction and have seen them pass 5 times now. the last loop was right over the house I am at. Seems they are working their way inland.

  • Cc July 11, 2011 (3:25 pm)

    I was just wondering what that noise was. Than you WSB.

  • breezygirl July 11, 2011 (3:26 pm)

    I believe I read in a previous story that these surveys have nothing to do with the events in Japan but are rather a routine study…

  • vbd July 11, 2011 (3:27 pm)

    Now wait a minute “Neighbor” and “old timer”, where in the world did you get the idea we were “dosed” by Fukushima?!?

    I work in a radiation detection laboratory and wasn’t able to measure much of anything. There was a TINY amount of I-131, but it was far below natural occurring levels. In fact, the only way to count my samples was to put them in a lead vault to get away from all the natural background. Since I-131 only has an 8 day half-life, and the only explosions creating any airborne material happened last March, it is completely GONE.

    It’s bizarre, and frankly a bit frightening, that people can be so ignorant and paranoid about this event that they think there needs to be some big cover up. There is none. Check your map – Japan is thousands of miles away, not across the street. VERY little radioactive material made it this far. The fact it was detectible at all, is a testament to how sensitive our detection methods are. It is really quite impressive.

    These sorts of radiation surveys have been going on in one form or another for years. It is in no way related to the events in Japan.

  • tw July 11, 2011 (3:47 pm)

    It’s gone over Admiral twice in the last half hour flying North-South.

  • dr July 11, 2011 (3:58 pm)

    Just flew VERY low over our house in Gatewood twice. I am not buying Boeing’s explanation either. I’ve been here for 12 years and they have never done this. It’s definitely related to Japan but they will never say that.

  • me too July 11, 2011 (3:59 pm)

    yep, that’s the one

  • C.Christensen July 11, 2011 (4:05 pm)

    yeah hes passed over 39th and Othello 5-6 times about every 10-15minutes

  • Jordan July 11, 2011 (4:28 pm)

    Thanks for the info, was going to send in a picture to ask if you knew what it was doing. Definitely in a scan type pattern with each flight about 300 yards further to the east.
    As for it being tied to the Fukushima radiation. Geez, people get real. There are sensors all over the west coast and none of them had any significant readings of radiation from Japan (and yes, they can differentiate). The information is available on the net, it just isn’t as exciting as your imagination. Listen to VBD, he/she obviously knows way more about it than the rest of us.

  • sotiredoflies July 11, 2011 (4:38 pm)

    vbd, check out Arnie Gundersen at Fairwinds. This was even talked about on CNN (briefly). You won’t be able to detect particles in the air with your monitoring. No geiger counter will pick up what’s going on here. Helicopters are a waste of time. It’s the food supply (soil, milk, etc) where these very heavy particles are concentrated. I’m tired of hearing talk about “background radiation” when we’re not concerned about gases. Internal emitters are the issue. All of the so-called radiation experts are proving themselves seriously lacking in basic knowledge of biology. Apples and oranges. And the only reason the public is buying any of this misinformation is because they don’t understand any of it!

  • Cascadianone July 11, 2011 (5:45 pm)

    Gotta love a good Conspiracy Theory. No need to silence dissent.

    Sotired, how would an internal emitter arrive in our soil or milk without being carried through the air from Japan and thus raising background radiation levels? Radioactive is as radioactive does, no? I’m interested in learning more.

  • Joann July 11, 2011 (6:03 pm)

    The helicopter woke me up this morning in Highland Park. I didn’t know what it was at the time. Thanks WSB!

    What I don’t understand is this: if the survey is being done now to establish baseline radiation levels in the area, then how can anyone tell with any accuracy how much radiation reached here from the Fukushima accident? The article on My Local Health Guide about the radiation survey even says, “After the recent nuclear reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan, Japanese officials measured radiation levels in the surrounding area, but could not tell how elevated they were because they had no pre-accident measurements for comparison.” If they couldn’t tell because they had no baseline measurements, how can we tell here? What’s the baseline the experts are using when they say the amount that reached here was only minuscule? It’s this kind of confused information from the experts that causes people to be suspicious and paranoid.

  • vbd July 11, 2011 (6:03 pm)

    @ sotiredoflies; Yes, I certainly know that there are several radioactive nuclides that do have biological pathways resulting in increased concentration in the food supply. That knowledge is precisely why we look for such minute concentrations of substances such as iodine. Iodine not only can accumulate in food products (such as milk), but once consumed will get further concentrated in the thyroid. So, yes, even small quantities of radioactive iodine is a concern. Cesium is also in issue, since it acts like calcium and will accumulate in bones.

    But the fact remains, that there are FAR more naturally occurring substances in our food, such as Potassium 40 and Carbon 14, that we consume regularly. Prudence was justified following Fukushima, and my coworkers and I were quite busy and concerned following the accident. But believe me, we NEVER found significant levels of contamination. I do not perform food testing, so I can’t speak to that. But I do know that the only reports of concern were over Iodine, and it is all long gone by now.

    As for the helicopters being a “waste of time”… If they had anything to do with Fukushima, that would be true. But they don’t. It’s a survey, and there are a lot of very knowledgeable scientists who are interested in the results.

    As for “so-called radiation experts”, you clearly don’t have any idea what a health physicist is, but you should visit Health Physics Society and find out. We do a lot more than walk around with geiger counters…..

  • Rebecca July 11, 2011 (6:08 pm)

    Love the dialogue between vbd and sotiredoflies. Please let’s keep it up. Any more info would be great.

    I recently called Fairwinds (as I saw the CNN clip you are referring to about the hot particles). I talked to Kevin Hurley from Fairwinds.

    He said the scientist they are working with are measuring air being pulled through air filters and testing the velocity of air somehow that way.

    I asked him about geiger counters and whether I should get one. He said geiger counters will not pick up the small hot particles and are not sensitive enough to detect the smaller particles. He said don’t waste your money on them…maybe for your food only. It’s the internal exposure that’s more of a concern and one particle is not going to show up on a geiger counter. I’m curious if that’s true with the helicopter tests as well? Doesn’t most detectable radiation accumulate on the ground or like testing it in a filter rather than just the air?

    I was asking him regarding relocating from the northwest and he said scientist say-you can run but you cannot hide, that there are hot particles in Seattle now but they could be in New England 5 months from now. It will be dispersing over northern hemisphere so nowhere to run. He said if living in Japan or close to it you might consider moving.

    He said Independent scientists are where they are having to rely on their information from. Regular sources are not giving information.

    He said if Arnie felt Seattle should be evacuated he would say so.

    He said Arnie can’t answer evacuating questions directly for legal reasons to protect himself. As a scientist, he can’t say everything is fine. He’s a scientist. They are doing research from all over the US at different locations and they don’t know the size of the particles. Could be nano size, micro, and you won’t know the size. It wiill get published if they know the size.

    He said there is a lack of information being given from Japan also.

    Any more information anyone has would be helpful.

  • CT July 11, 2011 (6:08 pm)

    This is data from one of the best nuclear radiation experts in the world:

  • Kevin July 11, 2011 (6:57 pm)

    I saw what I think is the same helicopter making several passes over the Arbor Heights area mid to late afternoon.
    It had some what almost looked like pontoons mounted on it’s outriggers. Flying quite low, perhaps 30 – 50 mph.
    The body was a two tone blue and white color scheme, and it looked like that same style that we usually associate with a TV news station helicopter, and was quite similar to the photo in the link at the top of the page.

  • vbd July 11, 2011 (6:58 pm)

    Oh give me a break CT. Arnie Gundersen is a well known anti-nuke who has found he can earn a living spreading fear. His simplistic assertions that a geiger counter can’t find what a air filter can, is something any first year radiation tech could tell you. It’s not new info.

    This “hot particle” thing is a red herring. We breathe in 5 “hot particles” a day, by his reasoning, right? And these hot particles are fission products from uranium and plutonium decay. And they came from Fukushima. I don’t know if that’s true, but let’s assume it is.

    What he isn’t telling you is that we breathe in FAR more than 5 particles. Probably millions a day. The most common source of the inhaled uranium decay products is radon. It is an alpha emitter, just like uranium, plutonium, americium, thorium, and all the others. Radon is the highest source of natural radiation exposure to the population. Higher than food or cosmic rays. So Arnie says we breathe in 1,000,005 “hot particles” instead of just 1,000,000. It’s rubbish.

    What Arnie sells is deception. He tells just enough truth to not be caught in a lie, but distorts that truth wildly.

  • LTF July 11, 2011 (7:34 pm)

    Great video CT!

  • DC July 11, 2011 (10:01 pm)

    Vbd, thanks for your posts. There will always be some people who prefer to believe the most sensational theory of events, but please don’t let them dissuade you from continuing to enlighten the rest of us who may not be quite as vocal as the tinfoil hat crowd.

  • (required) July 11, 2011 (10:59 pm)

    To those naysayers who claim we get more nuclear radiation from walking read this Al Jazeera story from lastt month:

    Note these two Seattle-based tidbits of note:

    (1): “Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well. The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer. “These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant,” he explained, “One cigarette doesn’t get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can’t measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit pretty heavy in April.””

    (2): “In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant. The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.”

  • Witness July 12, 2011 (12:08 am)

    Yeah I saw that exact helicopter driving over south one block west of california ave at around 5pm, I thought it was a military helicopter because of those large barrels on the sides (thought they were guns)

  • CT July 12, 2011 (6:56 am)

    More alarming radiation data:

  • zumblezee8 July 12, 2011 (8:29 am)

    Right so there is background “natural” radiation like Radon – which I believe is said to be the leading cause of cancer over even cigarettes. Interestingly Radon is a by-product or stage in the decay process of uranium (or is it plutonium – or both). So maybe that is why there is so much Radon hanging around? Maybe after the nuke bomb tests we were left with huge amounts coming down from the skies.

    Anyway, the stuff from Fukushima is not natural, so maybe our bodies have not developed as good a defense for them as they have for the natural sources.

    As for the “tiny” amounts. That is what we are concerned about, us the public. We are concerned about the hazardous effects of tiny amounts of radiation. Like even X-rays. It only takes a tiny amount of radiation to deform a cell that then becomes cancerous. That is how it happens – on a ‘tiny’ scale. So, it really irks me that physists all think we should shut up about the ‘tiny’ amounts.

    We are in an emergency situation. Of course everyone is being told not to panic, and frankly there is little that can be done to help ourselves against the invisible threat. It is counterproductive to deny it exists. All we can do is try to make sure it doesn’t happen again – though it is unpreventable if we continue to use nuclear technology. Play with fire, you will get burned. Who has not been burned with fire? What technology does not eventually meet up with an error or a glitch. The fact that we have no technology for storing, much less “cleaning up” nuclear waste or components of nuclear reactor disasters means that we should not be ‘playing’ with it. There are those who are making money from the nuclear industry, but the public, the planet, and the unborn for forever into the future are the ones who are carrying the risk.

  • LTF July 12, 2011 (8:32 am)

    Perhaps of interest.

    “High levels of radiation detected in Northwest rainwater”–125391598.html

  • VBD July 12, 2011 (9:34 am)

    Radon is not high because of “nuke bomb tests” or Fukushima. It’s because uranium is naturally all around us. Uranium is much more common than gold or silver in rocks and soil. And besides, here Seattle we have far less radon than in Spokane. Our annual radiation dose is less than the national average due to our geology, altitude, and lack of significant coal pollution. We know this because of the surveys that have been done for years, and continue with the one that is the subject of this article.

    It’s understandable that people are concerned. The Fukushima disaster should never have happened, and the environmental damage will last for a very long time. But the disaster is in Japan, not here.

    If you want to get all alarmed about radioactive pollution, take a look at fossil fuels. The combustion of coal and oil produces far more radioactive pollution than all nuclear accidents combined, including Chernobyl.

  • Bill July 12, 2011 (10:38 am)

    Thanks, WSB! I came to the site wondering if the answer was here, as it has flown ridiculously low over our Arbor Heights house today and yesterday.

  • Doug July 12, 2011 (10:58 am)

    Everyone of us has a small amount of Chernobyl in us, are u messed up because of it? No, you’re just fine, stop whining.

  • dawsonct July 12, 2011 (11:14 am)

    Don’t be fooled folks, those are black helicopters IN DISGUISE!!

  • rockyraccoon July 12, 2011 (11:30 am)

    How many times do those knuckleheads need to fly over my house? The glowing numerals on my watch must be setting off their alarms.

  • JoAnne July 12, 2011 (7:52 pm)

    The helicopter in the photo was definitely the one I saw yesterday. Thanks WSB for letting us know what that was about.

    Environmental baseline data are very good to have.

    Without them it would be difficult to measure the effects of either a natural or man-made disruption. And later, it would be difficult to determine whether conditions have returned to “normal.”

  • george July 12, 2011 (11:20 pm)

    Was this the bugger flying near Camp Long this morning? sounded like it was taking off from 35th or a nearby open space by CL.

  • VBD July 13, 2011 (8:30 am)

    Thank you for confirming what I’ve been saying Jaded_Angel. You first article shows that there was some Cesium and Iodine from Fukushima, along with some Strontium. Similar to what was found elsewhere like in Washington state at the same time (early April). The article also states “The level was about 27,000 times below the Derived Intervention Level set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration”. So again, incredibly small amount, but shows just how sensitive the test equipment is.
    It should be comforting to know that not only is frequent testing being done, but that the sensitivity of that testing is 4 orders of magnitude below the level needed indicate a problem.
    The second article shows data from a radiation monitoring site. Similar monitors are placed all over the world, and read fluctuations in background radiation. As mentioned, they will detect solar events, and can also see if someone is moving radioactive material. They make great watchdogs for airborne radiation. It may have been a noble gas emitted from Fukushima, or maybe a volcanic ash cloud, they can’t say for sure. Either way, it was not a concern in terms of health. Interesting though, thanks!

  • RJ July 13, 2011 (12:43 pm)

    They woke me up twice this morning in Edmonds. Also saw three of them slowly flying low along I-5 coming back from Ballard through shoreline to Edmonds.

  • Keys July 13, 2011 (8:32 pm)

    VBD is an industry shill.

  • Keys July 13, 2011 (8:32 pm)

    It’s in the rain.

  • watchdog July 14, 2011 (6:03 pm)

    For all the sheeple who think we are all safe .
    EPA to raise limits for radiation exposure while Canada turns off fallout

    Learn more:

  • Bruce Conway July 17, 2011 (4:58 pm)

    vbd mentions nothing about bio-accumulation, biomagnification and how Fukushima fallout will actually increase over time, even if the whole problem was solved and all reactors turned off.

    Nothing about fish, rainfall (heightened levels in Hawaii) or soil.

    Also, the fact that today’s background radiation probably has a lot more different isotopes in it than pre-Fukushima background radiation.

  • Jebus July 17, 2011 (7:20 pm)

    People wake up! They are seeing just how much radiation has fallen post fukishima. We have no idea what instruments they have on that chopper. We were douched and they know it. Our children will suffer from this the most. They have backround levels already, even the industry shill VBD stated that: “These sorts of radiation surveys have been going on in one form or another for years.” And don’t believe the lie that: “It is in no way related to the events in Japan.” Thats bull and everyone knows it. This will become the “NEW” backround level. WAKE UP or fall victim to the lies…

  • xdrfox July 17, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    I have been following this as the BP GOM disaster and LIES, raising acceptable limits and omission’s are the common thread !

  • Jebus July 17, 2011 (7:34 pm)

    Aerial Radiological Survey for King and Pierce Counties

    A helicopter flying over some urban areas of King and Pierce counties will gather radiological readings July 11-28, 2011. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measurement System will collect baseline levels of radioactive materials. The helicopter’s equipment can detect the presence of radioactive materials that emit gamma radiation such as cesium and radioactive iodine. The baseline would be used in the event of a radiation emergency to compare radioactive contamination to the normal levels found during this study. The Washington State Department of Health Office of Radiation Protection is overseeing the project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    The helicopter will fly a grid pattern spaced about 600 feet apart at an altitude of 300 feet, flying at 70 mph. The results will be provided to local agencies from the surveyed area by year-end. Some of the data may be withheld for national security purposes. The state Department of Health has been planning this project since 2009.

    Read this article and tell me they are just getting backround levels, post fukushima.

    They are getting a NEW baseline!

    Again, WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • Jebus July 17, 2011 (7:40 pm)

    The baseline would be used in the event of a radiation emergency to compare radioactive contamination to the normal levels found during this study.

    Some of the data may be withheld for national security purposes.


    Go here if you want the TRUTH

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