Here is another excellent article by SimplyInfo that digs for the truth of how contaminated fish caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture really are.
Here is another excellent article by SimplyInfo that digs for the truth of how contaminated fish caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture really are.
by RP Siegel
” My recent post on the spread of radiation stemming from the Fukushima nuclear accident drew quite a few questioning comments. Specifically the article suggested that radiation from the accident was drifting across the Pacific at levels high enough to cause alarm. It turns out such cause for alarm was exaggerated, though there is still reason to be concerned. I appreciate the feedback. I acknowledge that I relied on sources with which I was unfamiliar and posted some information that has been shown to be incorrect. I apologize.
To all who publish online, beware. Bad news travels fast. It gives credence to the old saying, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its pants on.” This is especially true on the Internet. I truly hope no one was harmed by this information. Now begins the task of earning back your trust which, though hard-earned, can be quickly lost.
I think the best way to start is to post a revised story on what is actually happening in the waters around Fukushima, Japan, as well as those farther afield.
For starters the initial source, PeakOil, used a bogus NOAA graphic to sensationalize the story, having carefully scrubbed out the legend showing that the colors actually represented wave heights at the peak of the tsunami, not radiation levels as the site would have you believe. I checked this image out, noticed this and chose not to use it in my post. Still, I continued to take the central thrust of the story as true.
Several people went to the generally reliable Snopes site to question the story and found confirmation of their suspicions. The blatant misuse of the NOAA chart is clearly called and tossed into the trash where it belongs. An interesting thing about the Snopes post, however, is that while the site prominently displays a text clipping stating that, “each day 300 tons of radioactive waste seeps into the ocean,” it never specifically addresses that claim.
I dug further and found that number actually comes from a quote by Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees energy policy as quoted in Reuters (generally considered unassailable) and elsewhere. In 2013, Yoneyama said, “We think that the volume of water [leaking into the Pacific] is about 300 tonnes a day.” Of course, anyone could be wrong, but who am I to question Reuters or a Japanese government official? I don’t.
That’s not to say Japanese government officials, or officers of TEPCO, can always be counted on to tell the truth, but their interest has generally been to minimize the extent of the damage, not to embellish it.
As for that amount of leakage, that’s equivalent to about 90,000 gallons of radioactive water. That sounds like quite a bit. But compared to the volume of the Pacific Ocean, it’s not a lot at all. Still, when that much leaks out each day, over the course of a year, it adds up to 33 million gallons. And it’s been five years now.
Even today, TEPCO only acknowledges that radioactive water threatens to flood out of the plant and into the ocean. The company denied, until recently, that any water leaked from the plant at all, even when fish contaminated with high levels of radiation were found near the plant by independent researchers from the University of Tokyo, raising major concerns for local fishermen.
The story regarding radiation reaching the Canadian West Coast, which claimed levels of iodine-131 were 300 times background levels, was recently updated with an editor’s statement that the original figures were incorrect.
Reports of a wildlife biologist (Alexandra Morton) pulling hundreds of herring out of the waters off British Columbia with blood coming out of their eyes and gills have not been discredited. However, there is no evidence linking this observation directly to radiation from Fukushima or anywhere else.
The claim that radiation levels found in tuna off the Oregon coast had tripled also appears to be legitimate. However, those levels are still substantially below what would be considered a health threat.
Having sorted through that, I would summarize as follows: Contaminated water continues to enter to ocean from the Fukushima site in significant volume. Traces of radiation have been found in various locations around the Pacific. It also appears that the levels detected at this time do not indicate any immediate threat to humans outside of Japan. That being said, our knowledge of the long-term impacts of these types of radiation on the oceans, and on ourselves, is far from complete.
Upon review, most of the statements in the original piece were in fact true, but I acknowledge the overall sense was that of an exaggerated cause for concern. What this shows is how easily a group of facts taken out of context can become a convincing story — a lesson for all of us. Putting it on the Internet is like putting a match to a dry grassland.
What is far less clear is what the actual levels are and where they can be found. What makes writing about this issue so difficult, and even dangerous, is the combination of two things: It’s a frightening subject, and there is very little solid information being made available.
In my efforts to bring in some more solid facts, I reached out to Greenpeace, which is monitoring the situation carefully. The group sent me some additional information in a press release with links to reports published outside the U.S.
Greenpeace’s famed ship, the Rainbow Warrior, went out to sample the waters around Fukushima in February of this year with former Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Naoto Kan onboard. What they found was that radiation in the seabed off Fukushima “is hundreds of times above pre-2011 levels.” They also found levels in nearby rivers that were “up to 200 times higher than ocean sediment.”
Expressing concern, Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan, said: “These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe.”
The areas sampled include the Niida River in Minami Soma, where readings measured as high as 29,800 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) for radio-cesium. (For those new to the subject, a becquerel is a derived unit that measures radioactivity.) More samples taken at the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, more than 90 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, found levels in sediment as high as 6,500 Bq/kg. To put that in perspective, recorded levels in the seabed near the plant before the disaster were 0.65 Bq/kg.
Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan, explained: “The sheer size of the Pacific Ocean combined with powerful complex currents means the largest single release of radioactivity into the marine environment has led to the widespread dispersal of contamination.”
Greenpeace expressed concern that the order scheduled to allow people to return to these areas next March “cannot be permitted to stand.” The group claims that “these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated.”
Greenpeace’s report, which came out in July of this year, concludes by saying the impact of the accident will persist for “decades to centuries.”
So, while we have not yet seen the global-scale consequences some predicted, the situation is indeed bad and getting worse. TEPCO continues to build steel tanks at the rate of three per week, to house a great deal of contaminated groundwater while awaiting decontamination. But according to this PBS documentary, the company will run out of room for more tanks sometime next year. The gravity-fed water filtration system has been effective in removing most contaminants, except for tritium. Tritium is a relatively weak radionuclide with a half-life of 12.5 years, which means it will take about 100 years to fully break down.
The molten nuclear cores in reactors still remain in three reactors. And the site will not be fully stabilized until those are removed. But the radioactivity level in those reactors is far too high for people to enter. TEPCO plans to develop robots to go in and retrieve the molten fuel. The company says that retrieval is estimated to begin in 2020.
In closing, while the level of concern suggested in the prior piece was overstated, I maintain that the situation at Fukushima is far from resolved and that it remains a serious concern, particularly in Japan. I further maintain that any plans to continue expanding nuclear power must include an in-depth review of what has happened in Fukushima, with the understanding that this story is far from over. ”
” On March 11, 2011, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, several reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered damage and released radioactive chemicals into the atmosphere and contaminated wastewater into the nearby Pacific Ocean. Hannah Azouz and Trista McKenzie, two recent graduates from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) bachelor of science in geology program, assessed the extent to which the soil of Hawaiʻi and locally purchased fish have been impacted by radioactivity from this event.
The students’ mentor, Henrietta Dulai, associate professor of geology, explained the motivation for this work, “My research team has been monitoring Fukushima-derived cesium in the Pacific Ocean since 2011 and we concluded that the Hawaiian Islands were spared from a direct hit of radionuclide plume spread by ocean currents. Yet, fish migrate and so even fish caught locally may accumulate some cesium in waters north of Hawaiʻi. Further, only one week after the disaster, the Department of Health identified Fukushima-derived radionuclides in the air, milk and precipitation over Hawaiʻi Island. We wanted to determine how much cesium was deposited from the atmosphere to the islands.”
To investigate the impact on locally-purchased fish, Azouz measured Fukushima-derived cesium isotopes in thirteen types of fish that are most commonly consumed in Hawaiʻi.
The FDA-accepted intervention limit for cesium isotope intake is 300 Bq/kg for fish. All fish tested were significantly below intervention limits—the highest cesium concentration in the examined species was in the Ahi tuna, carrying less than 1 Bq/kg.
“These data are informative to the community and they reassure me about the safety of the food we consume,” said Azouz. “The activities of the radionuclides were gratefully low—a person consuming the annual average amount of fish would receive the same dose of radioactivity as if they consumed one banana.”
“I did not know how passionate I would become about earth sciences,” said Azouz, who grew up in California but now calls Kailua home. “The most rewarding thing about this project is providing honest relief and real answers to the public. I can’t wait to publish this study and get it out onto the internet for the rest of the community to see!”
Azouz’s work was funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at UH Mānoa, with support from the Honors Program and SOEST.
“I recommend the University’s Honors Program as a great way to jump start a future career in your favored field. The research opportunities are endless,” said Azouz.
To estimate the atmospheric fallout of Fukushima-derived cesium and iodine onto Hawaiʻi, McKenzie analyzed mushroom and soil samples from Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island from areas with various average rainfall.
McKenzie’s research confirmed and quantified the presence of Fukushima-derived fallout in Hawaiʻi—the radioactive elements were present in both mushrooms and soil. However, the activities detected were much lower than fallout associated with the nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Additionally, they found that Fukushima-derived cesium in soils was correlated with precipitation—the more rainfall, the more cesium.
The levels of cesium activity (factoring both historical and Fukushima-derived fallout) in mushrooms were more than 12 times under the Derived Intervention Limit. For soils, there is no specific safety limit for radiocesium, but McKenzie found cesium inventories were not high—up to 1,200 Bq/m2cesium in Hawaiʻi soils compared to 200,000 Bq/m2 in forest soils found near the Fukushima Power Plant.
McKenzie’s fieldwork was funded by UROP at UH Mānoa, as was a trip to Vienna, Austria, to present her research at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly. Subsequent to her presentation in Vienna, McKenzie also won the American Geophysical Union Multi-Society Undergraduate Spring 2016 Virtual Poster Showcase.
“I chose this project for my undergraduate research because it offered me a chance to investigate a really important question,” said McKenzie. “I’ve enjoyed both the field and lab work, and as a result of attending the EGU, I was able to meet geologists from all over the world and gain valuable presentation experience,” said McKenzie.
Both Azouz and McKenzie will continue working with Dulai in the fall—this time as graduate students. ”
by Marcie Grabowski
This is an excellent video that explains concerns of radiation exposure in Japan and the safety standards for radiation in foods sold in Korea.
The research team for simplyinfo.org put together an excellent summary report of the status of each unit at Fukushima Daiichi, along with the various decommissioning and cleanup projects, including the frozen ice wall and barrier, radioactive water filtration, muon scans, storage tank farms, evacuation lifts and compensation for Fukushima evacuees, Fukushima-related lawsuits, and radiation exposure and contamination to people, food and the environment.
” ONAHAMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Fish market vendor Satoshi Nakano thinks he knows which fish caught in the radiation-tainted sea off the Fukushima coast should be kept away from dinner tables.
Yet five years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl there is still no consensus on the true extent of the damage — exacerbating consumer fears about what is safe to eat.
Environmentalists are at odds with authorities, warning that the huge amounts of radiation that seeped into coastal waters after the disaster in 2011 could cause problems for decades.
The government is confident it has stemmed the flow of radioactive water, but campaigners insist contaminated ground water has continued to seep into the Pacific Ocean, and the situation needs further investigation.
“It was the single largest release of radioactivity to the marine environment in history,” Greenpeace nuclear expert Shaun Burnie said, speaking aboard the campaign group’s Rainbow Warrior ship, which has sailed in to support a three-week marine survey of the area the environmental watchdog is conducting.
Fukushima is facing an “enormous nuclear water crisis,” Burnie said.
“The whole idea that this accident happened five years ago and that Fukushima and Japan have moved on is completely wrong.”
Fishermen are banned from operating only within 20 kilometers of the plant.
Although there are no figures for attitudes on seafood alone, the latest official survey by the government’s Consumer Affairs Agency showed in September that more than 17 percent of Japanese are reluctant to eat food from Fukushima.
Nakano knows it is best for business to consider carefully the type of seafood he sells, in the hope it will quell consumer fears.
“High levels of radioactivity are usually detected in fish that move little and stick to the seabed. I am not an expert, but I think those kinds of fish suck up the dirt of the ocean floor,” he said in his coastal hometown of Onahama.
Greenpeace is surveying waters near the Fukushima plant, dredging up sediment from the ocean floor to check both for radiation hot spots as well as places that are not contaminated.
On Monday, the Rainbow Warrior sailed within 1.6 kilometers of the Fukushima coast as part of the project — the third such test it has conducted, but the closest to the plant since the nuclear accident.
Researchers Tuesday sent down a remote-controlled vehicle attached with a camera and scoop in order to take samples from the seabed, which will then be analyzed in independent laboratories in Japan and France.
“It’s very important (to see) where is more contaminated and where is less or even almost not contaminated,” Greenpeace’s Jan Vande Putte said, stressing the importance of such findings for the fishing industry.
Local fishermen have put coastal catches on the market after thorough testing, which includes placing certain specimens seen as high risk through radiation screening — a program Greenpeace lauds as one of the most advanced in the world.
The tests make sure no fish containing more than half of the government safety standard for radiation goes onto the market.
The 2011 disaster was caused by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast, which sparked a massive tsunami that swamped cooling systems and triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, run by operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Today, about 1,000 huge tanks for storing contaminated water occupy large parts of the site, but as 400 tons of groundwater a day flows into the damaged reactor buildings, many more will be needed.
Tepco’s measures to reduce the water influx include building an underground wall, freezing the land itself and siphoning underground water.
The government, too, insists the situation is under control.
“The impact of the contaminated water is completely contained inside the port of the Fukushima plant,” Tsuyoshi Takagi, the Cabinet minister in charge of disaster reconstruction, told reporters on Tuesday.
But Greenpeace’s Burnie says stopping the groundwater flow is crucial to protecting the region.
“What impact is this having on the local ecology and the marine life, which is going on over years, decades?” Burnie asked.
“We can come back in 50 years and still be talking about radiological problems” at the nuclear plant as well as along the coast, he said. ”
by Harumi Ozawa and Quentin Tyberghien