Nations to the northwest of Russia reported slightly increased levels of radiation on several days in June. The levels were harmless to human health and the environment.
The isotopes observed include Cs-134, Cs-137, Ru-103, I-131, and isotopes of cobalt. The possible source region for the June 22 and 23 observations was calculated by the monitoring organization for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO), which has isotope monitoring stations around the world. The tweet doesn’t say this, but that region was probably calculated by considering the winds during that period. (Lassina Zerbo is the director of the CTBTO.)
Iodine-131 was observed at more northerly stations and on different days than the other isotopes. It has a half-life of 8 days and is a fission product, as are the other isotopes except for cobalt. Cobalt is an activation product of the steel containment vessel for a reactor. It seems likely that these observations come from a leaking nuclear reactor, but where?
Russia has reactors in the suspect area, but officials there have said that none of them have leaked.
Last week, a test of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile was thought to be planned for the Kapustin Yar test site, north of the Caspian Sea.
Nothing more than a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was announced by the Russian government, so it’s not clear why this exclusion would have been for Burevestnik in particular. Up until now, Burevestnik tests have been further north. The deadly test of last year was within the area calculated by the CTBTO.
There’s not enough information to conclude anything more than that these emissions were from a reactor. Russia is party to conventions requiring it to provide information on accidents involving the release of radiation. The other nations within the possible source area have been conscientious about their adherence to those conventions. Russia hasn’t.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner
Thank you Cheryl.
I picked the wrong year to watch the Chernobyl miniseries.
Are there any conventions for which the last sentence would read, “Russia has.”
So Russia’s got a leaky reactor and won’t tell anyone. This is fine.
I’d forgotten the Chernobyl meltdown happened in ’86, same year as the Challenger disaster.
Major Major Major Major
Thanks for posting about this. Fuckin Russia.
<PickyNerd>Technically, “radioactive contamination”. “Radiation” is the emission from the radioisotopes. The isotopes themselves are the significant discovery.</PickyNerd>
(And yes, I know you already knew that. I can’t help myself).
Hasn’t Russia announced or leaked it was working on Cobalt-salted nuclear weapons?
This year really is going above and beyond, isn’t it?
Not to worry, Trump’s on this.
@dmsilev: I got two bits down on an alien invasion in August.
And we’re not even technically halfway through it. =:-0
Adam L Silverman
@Carlo: This should end well…
Oh c’mon. When did the soap opera writers take over?
@crm114: I think that was supposed to be part of their drone submarine that would destroy the entire east coast of the United States.
I don’t try to do a lot of analysis on the basis of one isotope or another in observations like this. There’s plenty of room for partitioning effects during a breach, or in the atmosphere. The presence of radioactive cobalt is interesting, but Occam’s Razor suggests that, given the other isotopes, it’s consistent with a reactor breach.
@Baud: I’m betting either on asteroid strike or the Yellowstone supervolcano. Though, with this news, Godzilla appearing is also a possibility.
Thank you for the post. Curious: what is the rational behind developing a nuclear powered cruise missile? Speed? Range? Now I read your comment about drone submarines. Makes a little more sense.
I’m comforted in the knowledge that Rick Perry is on the job!
We’re due for a Yellowstone super volcano.
I think the main real-world benefit is loiter time. Basically, you can launch it and have it circle around indefinitely waiting for a launch order, instead of having it sit on the ground until you launch it. That would make it a good retaliation weapon, since it would be very difficult to take out in an enemy first strike. It might also be able to take some kind of long, convoluted flight path the enemy doesn’t expect that takes advantage of holes in their radar defenses, but that seems like an unlikely use.
To be honest, though, I think the main advantage is that it sounds really cool and advanced.
@Roger Moore: Agree
I’m surprised Elon Musk isn’t working on one.
Rick Perry resigned as Energy Secretary last year after he was implicated in the Ukraine scandal. The current Energy Secretary is Dan Brouillette.
Drumpf does not do work. His wunderkind son-in-law will handle it. Like everything else.
It has a strong odor of Putin creating one-off megaweapons from his hollow volcano lair while his conventional military decays from neglect and lack of funds. It could be some kind of hail Mary attempt to regain prominence, or simply something to sell to petrostates.
If somebody wants cruise missiles with long airtimes, it would be simpler to just create autonomous midair refueling. As it is, our attack drones can be aloft for bloody long times already, although not with warheads the power of those on cruise missiles.
Musk has his hands full with his own set of cool-sounding ideas.
@Baud: What makes you think he isn’t?
@Baud: Tesla Model Boom.
Balloon-Juice! Come for the detailed chemistry of radionuclide emissions and their likely source profile, stay for cat-shaving videos and tips.
Thank you so much, Cheryl! So many experts here on so many different things.
The United States tried to build a nuclear powered cruise missile in the 1960s. It didn’t go well.
Since the laws of fluid mechanics and nuclear physics haven’t changed since then, there’s no reason to believe that Vladimir Putin or Elon Musk can build one.
That’s not to say they won’t try.
@Roger Moore: Thanks. All I could think of was maybe the Russians have a surplus of rocket scientists and need to cull them.
This year really is going above and beyond, isn’t it?
Saw someone remark that no psychic or astrologer predicted this. Not one.
@OzarkHillbilly: Because Musk doesn’t do secret. He blabs before starting any cool new project, so much so that it’s usually assumed he’s trolling until he actually announces that work has started.
@Cheryl Rofer: Now you’ve driven me into half an hour of procrastination reading up on the Orion project, that glorious Freeman Dyson et al., Cold War dream of interstellar nuclear propulsion.
I’m still amazed that they thought an earth launch that required 800 nuclear detonations was even remotely a plausible idea.
@Redshift: Ah, Good point, you are correct of course. And it doesn’t even have to work afterwards for him to brag about it.
What happened to all the normal, every-day threats, like Murder Hornets?
Something for your Outlook calendar: September 15 is Battery Day.
Cheaper by the
I’m sufficiently old to remember the project to dig a sea level canal through Nicaragua using nuclear detonations. “Steam shovels are so 19th Century.”
@trollhattan: You can pay an extra $20k for the hardware now, and after a future software update you’ll be able to end civilization as we know it. Best to get it now since the price will go up next year!
Obvious Russian Troll
@dmsilev: *Russian* Godzilla–a giant, fire-breathing bear.
@Tom Levenson: Using an Orion drive once you’re already in orbit is not an inherently ridiculous idea. Launching from the surface, on the other hand, would be Bad. Not quite ‘don’t cross the streams’ bad, but getting there.
Don’t count out the Long Valley Caldera.
@trollhattan: Project Plowshare, in case anyone wants to look it up.
Argh. Couple of comments in moderation because apparently I accidentally added a couple of chars in the email field. Could someone with the keys please release them? Thanks.
I think people were just not even thinking about nuclear safety back then. They had all kinds of crazy ideas about what to do with nukes, and protecting people from radiation was very low on the list. To put it another way, a project that required 800 nuclear bombs to blow the ship into orbit may have seemed like a more plausible approach when people were blowing up dozens of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere as part of nuclear testing.
@Yutsano: I feel better already.
OT: doth Lindsey Graham have a reason to sweat? It would take a MASSIVE wave but if so…
Well, duh. It’s hindsight, not foresight, that’s 2020.
FTFY: More accurate characterization.
Yes, hello? I’ve completed my free six month trial of 2020 and I’d like to return it, please.
The reverse is more accurate for most of us.
@Roger Moore: Doh! Attempting to leverage his position for some sweet Ukraine energy sector firehose of cash for the three amigos and rolling for big coal. It’s hard to keep up- so thanks for the assist.
The phrase “cooler heads prevailed” never had a truer application than when Edward Teller proposed “solutions”.
Adam L Silverman
@dmsilev: @LuciaMia: @Obvious Russian Troll:
“Ah, hello customer! My manager informs me we have a special offer to give our repeat customers, the next six months can be had for a lowest-ever price of $5.99. I’m certain you will agree that this is the best deal ever! Goodbye.” [click]
Opting out of 2020, Part 2 is almost as hard as cancelling Sirius XM.
Mike in NC
Putin: we have fake weapons to scare you with.
The part that bothers me is that nuclear power can be administered safely. It may not be safely administered profitably under the current economic system for power generation, but that too can be addressed.
But every dipshit idea that turns into a disaster means that the good ideas will never get a forum, and that’s a shame, because it could be a key part of addressing climate change, but it’s never going to get a chance to do so.
Sorry kid. You break it, you bought it.
@Baud: Who’s to say he isn’t?
randal m sexton
@Tom Levenson: Sci fi book that has a dyson bomb powered ship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall#:~:text=Footfall%20is%20a%201985%20science,driven%20by%20a%20Bussard%20ramjet.
Nuclear will never be cost-effective and when Joe puts me in Rick Perry’s chair I’m balls to the wall on battery and other off-peak storage schemes, along with full speed ahead solar and wind, plus grid modernization.
I’ll humor the fusion folks, because there’s still potential, but fission isn’t going to be the path.
Fun fact: ATM 77% of California’s electricity demand is from renewables–17 MW (windy today, so wind power is high). Diablo Canyon is cranking out its 10%, 2.3 MW and natural gas is matching it almost exactly.
That’s 40 million Americans being served three quarters by renewable electricity.
@trollhattan: Thank you trollhattan. That was wonderful!
@Cheryl Rofer: As far as I know reactor builders make great efforts to avoid incorporating cobalt in reactor vessel structures since neutron activation of cobalt produces a lot of dangerous secondary radioactivity that lasts for a long time — Co-60 half life is five years IIRC, and the main product is a high-energy penetrating gamma ray, both very good reasons to not have regular cobalt around in a reactor structure. Conversely Co-60 makes for a good gamma-ray source for medical and engineering imaging systems.
A simple reactor leak wouldn’t release much in the way of Co-60 even assuming it was produced by exposure to neutrons. It’s not very mobile if it’s part of a steel structure with a very high melting point unlike the usual escapees from an fission incident, fan favourites like vapour-form and highly soluble I-131 and the low-melting-point Cesium twins -134 and -137.
It’s a pity Joe Public never gets to see the numbers from the detectors, to see what amounts and proportions of the isotopic zoo have actually been spotted.
@trollhattan: It’s only not cost effective in the context of how the market is structured. Part of the justification for Frances nuclear build-out was to power the TGV, so its value proposition has to be combined with the benefits of fast/cheap mass transit.
Not everything is cost effective. The trillions of dollars we’ve spent on the highway system, for example. But we did it anyway because it unlocked a bunch of other economic gains. Infrastructure is almost never cost-effective on its own terms. Here in SoCal the cost of water is very high – not in per dollar terms, but in terms of environmental impact, reduction of economic opportunities in the places we’re taking the water from, and so on. Attaching economic value to things like water is a very dangerous thing to do anyway.
Yes, here in CA we have better options. We can meet 200% of our power needs from geothermal, distributed throughout the state (very few states can do this) and 200% from offshore wind, once we get the engineering down for large floating turbines. Both are 24/7 sources, so they compete directly with nuclear. But only Hawaii has both of those options, and almost all states have neither of them. Batteries are increasingly fitting in this space, but there’s still work to do on longevity of batteries.
“Mention code OMGWTF and you’ll receive a second 2020 at no extra charge!”
Not to be outdone, the Soviets were going to nuke their rivers into submission and actually blew some stuff up
@Mike in NC: Worked for St. Ronnie.
I finally saw the video from The Villages that Trump retweeted, and it just warms my heart seeing the boomer golf cart parade, with half of them yelling ‘white power’ and the other half yelling ‘fuck Trump’.
If the Villages are that divided, we might have a shot at this after all.
@Robert Sneddon: It’s true that reactor builders try to exclude cobalt from reactor components, but it’s impossible to exclude cobalt activation products from reactors, because they can result from activation of iron.
Let’s see if the listing of cobalt is even accurate before we overanalyze.
In that video someone just saw their grandma yelling ‘grab them by the pussy’ to every golf cart that drove by, and that’s is really a mood right now.
West of the Rockies
OT, but here goes… Trump denies receiving a briefing on the bounty program. Like, the IC would not tell the President of such a thing?!? I hope this obvious lie is quickly exposed.
@trollhattan: “Nuclear will never be cost-effective and when Joe puts me in Rick Perry’s chair I’m balls to the wall on battery and other off-peak storage schemes, along with full speed ahead solar and wind, plus grid modernization.”
I am also all in on solar, wind, hydro, etc. but I get a little miffed at blithe dismissals of nuclear power as a crucial element of power decarbonization. “Not cost effective” is self-fulfilling, since no power generation option is “cost effective” without government subsidy and favorable regulation. The “where will we put the waste?” argument is fatuous, since we are currently putting billions of tons of GHG “waste” into the atmosphere, with consequences that dwarf any nuclear waste storage issue. And the “But Chernobyl!” argument shows bad risk assessment skills, since even if modern reactors were so unsafe that an all-nuclear decarbonization of the energy sector would result in a Chernobyl every fifty years (and they are not) we should accept that trade-off in a heartbeat. The consequences of GHG-driven climate change are so catastrophic as to make frequent Chernobyls a joke by comparison.
The energy sector is always going to need a powered spinning-turbine component to deal with generation uncertainties from wind and solar. We could actually get all the carbon out of the energy sector with a nuclear component (which France does quite safely, btw). With the now-inevitable climate catastrophe, it’s not good sense to rule out an important abatement measure such as nuclear power.
@West of the Rockies: Does it count as “receiving” a briefing if the information was presented but he was asleep or rage-Tweeting on his phone and so wasn’t paying attention?
Shouldn’t hydropower be in there somewhere? No solar or geothermal or is it too small to track?
West of the Rockies
Heaven forbid the Tangerine Turd be expected to pay attention to anything for more than four seconds.
Hate to point it out, but the next 5 months, spell out JASON,
Works well with masks, wrong kind of mask, though.
West of the Rockies
I think California learned its lesson after Enron fucked it over for 15 billion in electricity costs under Gray Davis.
Chernobyl had little effect in the US, Three Mile Island had already pretty much killed the perception of safe nuclear power.
The Pale Scot
Ya but they were going to be teeny tiny little nuclear explosions. You’d barely notice; as long as you were at least a 100 mi away
@Martin: Hey, where do you have the geothermal to get 200% of California’s electrical power needs? The Geyers – great stuff. South of the Salton Sea – up and coming, plus you get byproduct lithium. The northern Coso Range – great resource but limited areal extent. Even with promising targets like northwest of Herlong I don’t see where you get even close to100%, much less 209%.
Sorry, big fingers, tiny keys.
@Martin: Or we simply build the Candu reactor design that is utterly safe, proven and far cheaper (due to long term cost reductions).
@Cheryl Rofer: I’d be interested to read any knowledgeable-layman level reports that are available on neutron activation of iron producing noticeable amounts of Co-60. A quick look at Wikipedia suggests it would need two successive neutron captures to get from the rather uncommon Fe-58 isotope (0.2% of normal iron) via stable Co-59 and hence to Co-60 suggesting it’s not a common activation product. Having enough of it escape from a reactor accident and be detectable at a distance is another matter.
A putative nuclear-powered cruise missile would be likely to incorporate cobalt-alloy materials which are highly heat-resistant. Assuming an open-cycle nuclear-heated jet then Co-60 activation and ablation into the environment is entirely possible.
It’s broken down here and updated in real time. (I have no life.)
Small hydro is well off this year because of our very subpar snowpack. Normally there would be more but in a year like this they hold back reservoir storage for irrigation rather than spilling through powerhouses. Interestingly, small hydro (in-stream generation, no dam). is considered renewable in the California energy portfolio. Also, we do have some pumped storage powerhouses that move water uphill and back into reservoirs at night when demand is low and electricity to lift water is cheap.
Geothermal: 5% @ 900 MW
Biomass, biogas, small hydro combine for about 6%.
A hot, windless weekday when folks are cranking the A/C will show a much different supply/demand mix.
@Cermet: Candu is not proliferation-resistant — it’s a heavy-water reactor which can be refuelled “on the run” allowing the surreptitious breeding of Pu-239 by Bad Actors. There are a few other reactor designs such as the old Magnox and more modern AGR which like their Russian cousin, the RMBK-4 have similar abilities and proliferation worries. It’s notable that a few non-nuclear weapons countries bought a single Magnox reactor about fifty years ago…
Reliability at The Geysers has been problematic but piping wastewater to the site for injection wells has reinvigorated steam generation. Genius, says I.
The next Congress will be looking for ways to rebuild our economy. One of the best ways will be investing in clean energy, conservation, and a modernized electrical grid. Economist Robert Pollin claims that in a clean energy transition three jobs would be created for one fossil fuel job lost. The investment would pay for itself while reducing carbon emissions.
The Pale Scot
@randal m sexton:
Pournelle also used it in King David’s Spaceship and maybe one other, Mote’s Eye? maybe
The Pale Scot
Enhanced fallout weapon maybe? It is fucking 2020
Charlton Heston? You’re needed in Studio Three
@Martin: I thought I had the headphones plugged in to listen to that, and the volume on that clip not only nearly blew my eardrums out, it brought Pal D up from downstairs because *he* could hear it!
Trying to explain what I’m listening to in between bouts of laughing and going code “OMGWTF” (thanks, NotMax!) was…a bit of a challenge. A bit too much of a challenge, actually. So I got out of the house and went to visit my horse instead.
@trollhattan: In the short and medium term natural gas back up power generation works. The IPCC target date for net zero carbon emissions is 2050. And excess peak solar generated power can be used to produce hydrogen; maybe by the next decade natural gas power plants will burn hydrogen instead.
@frosty: In CA, hydro is not considered a renewable because we have the real problem of running out of water, plus because of the way the state power economy and regulation works, adding hydro as a renewable would cause the power companies to throw all of their energy into damming things up in order to meet their renewable targets. By keeping it outside, it takes the pressure off of building new dams (which the state wants to do solely for the purpose of water management, and not power generation).
The Pale Scot
On Wiki’s Cobalt Bomb page
Cobalt readings could be a nice play to push disinformation
@Robert Sneddon: Or it could be an erroneous reading. Let’s not get too far over our skis.
Re Orion, my two favorite lines from the Orion article at atomic rockets are
Also, the plan was shaped nuclear charges. (’nuff said, but if that tempts your mind, and you succumb, check out the piece on the Cassaba Howitzer.)
@Cheryl Rofer: Yeah, I know. Co-60 is an odd isotope to report being detected in such circumstances, not being one of the regular suspects which is why it attracted my attention.
@Cheryl Rofer: I would love to a see a thread sometime, maybe more than one, dealing with the clean energy transition. Some excerpts from the excellent interview of economist Robert Pollin in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists March ’19 titled “We Need a Better Green New Deal” would provide plenty of grist for the mill. British scientist Myles Allen also has a good piece in the May ’19 Bulletin. Allen was in one of the working groups that produced the IPCC report released October 2018. I don’t presume to task anyone; I just hope a front pager will choose to do this sometime. There is so much happening in this field right now, and I think it will be an area of important legislation next year.
@Geoboy: The major geothermal areas in CA are the Geysers (north of SF), Glass Mt/Surprise Valley up near the OR/NV borders, Lassen/Amedee, Long Valley, Coso, and then all the stuff by the Salton Sea.
The state produces about 15,000 GWh, and needs another 10,000 in imports.
We get to about 30,000 GWh if we exploited all of the known and forecasted reserves. But with enhanced geothermal (basically fracking the layer where the temperature gradient is high to increase permeability) you get well over 200% of demand, so even if you limited that to the more cost effective areas you could still meet state needs.
And it’s not to say that 200% is achievable in a cost effective way, just that it’s achievable. Same for offshore wind. The engineering required to build that is daunting, since the sea floor is too deep to anchor the turbine. It is expected that problem will soon be addressed (there are deep-water platforms going up in the north Atlantic now).
So there’s two sides to the problem – 1) how will electricity costs change as we price in environmental costs that may bring some of these to be cost competitive (including nuclear). 2) how will engineering adjust these costs going forward.
The cheapest long-term solution is conservation. If the other 49 states adopted CAs conservation policies, we could close every coal plant in the country overnight. National electricity demand would drop by 40%. And CA has a lot of progress that we can still make as a state. Honestly, this should be the largest source of investment and national priority, but Americans are extraordinarily committed to the idea that waste = freedom and prosperity.
But the problem of carbon emissions is not electricity in CA – it’s cars and trucks and 2-stroke engines. Electrifying everything from leaf blowers to semis is going to massively increase the electricity demand, which would probably involve pulling in more geothermal, etc. to address. And I’ve raised the water issue as well – SoCal is going to have to build out desalination at scale, and is doing to need the power infrastructure to do that.
@Geminid: Just prior to this whole covid horror-show I was going to do a guest post set on this at the individual level, with math. Still planning to, but gotta do covid math first.
I saw this pic on twitter, before the radiation reports:
It was explained away by PTB as an anvil cloud
@Martin: That would be great. I hope you check out the Pollin interview (if you haven’t already). He’s been working on these questions since 2008, and has written clean power plans for a couple states. I learned a lot from that interview. With so much bad stuff happening that still needs to be discussed, a post on clean energy would be like a respite thread.
Hopefully the aliens/alt-timeline people/globalconspiracy wait a bit to see how Homo sapiens deals with SARS-CoV-2 and whether its ripple effects reduce GHG emissions enough downstream.
Both of those are fairly low probability. More probable, i.e. can emerge from randomness
– A second deadly pandemic (this one is easy mode, but we’re winning a lot of pandemic practice through all the losses, and the economic and social effects will persist beyond the pandemic.).
– A regional nuclear war (please no)
– A Carrington-event class (or larger) CME impact (solar flares emerge from solar chaos/magnetic fields). Note we’re just past the solar mininum, so unlikely for a few years.
– A few other scenarios for the near term.
 A Different Kind of World-Changing Disaster: Another Carrington Event (Bryanne McDonough, May 8, 2020)
@The Pale Scot: King David’s Spaceship was a scaled down Orion variant powered by conventional explosives, as it only needed to get a small capsule into orbit. A full scale Orion ship with nuclear propulsion was used in Footfall.
One small comfort is that “due” here is in the geological sense.
@trollhattan: Agreed, that piping tertirary treated wastewater to the Geysers has done wonders for its production. Plus, the POTWs were having trouble getting it clean enough to release it into the nearby river (the previous discharge), so they got to avoid large fines while making money off of it. Wins all around!
@Martin: I wasn’t aware that the projected combined geothermal production from fields within California could produce that much electrical power. Do you have a reference for that which I could look up? Much appreciated.
@randal m sexton: Just reread that last month (freebie copy copped a few years back at The Book Thing of Baltimore [temporarily closed while they renew their nonprofit status]). Would not surprise me if the genesis of the idea was Pournelle hot to fight an epic battle with an Orion spaceship & they worked backwards from that.
@Elliott: Yes, it’s a thunderhead
@Geminid: LOL, once upon a time, I was planning to write whole series of posts on the energy transition.
It could be part of rebuilding the US, so maybe I’ll get back to it after Trump no longer can tear the country down.
@Robert Sneddon: There are three other radioactive cobalt isotopes, and the article simply said cobalt, so I’m waiting for more information.
J R in WV
Hi Sealion Boy! Can you spell G-o-o-g-l-e ??? I bet you can…
@Cheryl Rofer: Thanks Cheryl
@Robert Sneddon: A nuke-powered cruise missile would disturb me because it might not be that hard to turn it into a real nightmare weapon. Boost it to ramjet speed with rockets, leave the reactor off til it’s well clear of the attacker’s airspace, expose onboard cobalt to neutrons en route to the target, & send it down a high population concentration (e.g., Least Coast of the USA) subsonic at low level. Lethal neutron flux from an unshielded reactor plus Co-60 (halflife 5.3 years) spewing out the exhaust might render the whole region uninhabitable for a generation without much endangering the rest of the planet. (Think of it as localized genocide.) Shooting it down (presuming that’s possible) is not much better of an option, though it would limit the area exposed. Yeesh.
@Uncle Cosmo: That’s the old American Project PLUTO concept, a mind-bogglingly stupid idea that got to the point where a couple of prototype nuclear cruise-missile ramjet motors were built and tested back in the early 1960s.
Intercontinental and intermediate-range ballistic missiles are a lot easier and cheaper to build for deterrence purposes and they can be maintained and verified ready-for-use. The PLUTO missile once launched into a holding pattern couldn’t be recalled or brought down anywhere safely other than maybe the deep Pacific Ocean area that’s used as a dumping ground for orbital launch vehicles today. See also the NB-36H from the time when nuclear bombers were considered a good idea.
ObSF: “Steam Bird” by Hilbert Schenck. Plot synopsis: a group of fanatical steam locomotive enthusiasts engineer an international crisis in order to launch an NB-36H so they can claim assorted steam power records like highest-altitude working steam, fastest steam vehicle etc.
Both the Yellowstone and Long Valley complexes are deflated, and there’s very little sign that either of them is being significantly recharged. Back in the ’90s there was a little bit of magma movement under Long Valley, which created some earthquake swarms and motivated the installation of much monitoring equipment, which has since then not detected anything the slightest bit ominous.
These are _very_ long-term threats.
Ranier, on the other hand …