Triple meltdowns remain out of control causing up to 66,000 excess cancers say two new reports while Americans feast on fishy Pacific seafood
Snow squalls brought the temperature down to a frigid 15.8 degrees Fahrenheit on the trawler January 20. The sea pitched in a rough chop.
Cold Japanese fisherman plied the Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Japan with three klieg lights at 2:30 in the morning. They were the only vessel around.
These weren’t just any waters the men fished in the freezing winds. The water was ‘hot’ with radiation. But the fish were plentiful and if they didn’t pass rad testing, they could be sold overseas.
The vessel bobbed in the choppy waters several hundred yards away from the still stricken, still leaking, still out of control triple nuclear reactors in full meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Gone fishing in the hot zone.
“Here’s a screenshot I took on 1/20/2016 at 2:36 [Japanese Standard Time] via the TBS Webcam,” says Sierra Nevada musician Chas Haws in a Radiation Conversation comment on EnviroReporter.com not long after taking it earlier this year. “It looks like a very large fishing boat with its trolling lights on. The thought that somebody somewhere could unknowingly consume those fish is a very scary thought. So scary I can’t believe any human being in their right mind would do such a thing.”
Exactly five years after the beginning of one of the two worst nuclear disasters in history, people are doing just that, eating fish from the seas off of Fukushima. If the catch is too radioactive under loose Japanese regulations, it’s sent to seafood consumers in the United States where the allowable radiation limits in fish are even more lax.
Americans have been eating meltdowns-contaminated food for half a decade, as EnviroReporter.com’s Fukushima investigation shows. Radioactive cesium (caesium) is rising in fish caught off of British Columbia, the region (including Alaska and the Pacific Northwest) that supplies America’s ravenous seafood consumption.
Two new studies detail the extent of the contamination in Japan, its cancerous impact upon the population and continued Pacific contamination. Government testing has shown sea creatures high in Fukushima radionuclides caught of West Coast of the U.S. and Canada. Yet judging from the robust U.S. consumption of crashing seafood stocks in the Pacific, which have repeatedly tested positive for Fukushima radionuclides, America has ‘gone fishing’ too in the gastronomical sense.
Gone fishing. Most Americans would fit in this category when it comes to the Fukushima meltdowns and their effects. Meltdown fatigue, complicated science and an assortment of pro-nuclear naysayers comparing Fukushima’s radiation with eating bananas has understandably numbed great numbers of people to their peril.
The Long and Ionizing Road
EnviroReporter.com’s 2014 anniversary piece Fukushima – The Perfect Crime? reported that 441 tons of highly radioactive water was sluicing into the Pacific from the stricken cores every day. According to a new report by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) called 5 Years Living With Fukushima, that number is now 300 tons per day.
The reduction in toxic water released is the good news (even though more than 500,000 thousand tons of radioactive waste water has now gone into the Pacific since 2011). The bad news is up to 66,000 “excess cancers” will hit the Fukushima area because of the meltdowns, according to the report. Workers who fought to save the reactors and their comrades paid the highest price for their valor.
“More than 25,000 cleanup and rescue workers received the highest radiation dose and risked their health, while preventing a deterioration of the situation at the power plant site,” the report says. “If data supplied by the operator TEPCO [plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company] is to be believed, around 100 workers are expected to contract cancer due to excess radiation, and 50 percent of these will be fatal. The real dose levels, however, are most likely several times higher, as the operator has had no qualms in manipulating the data to avoid claims for damages – from hiring unregistered temporary employees to tampering with radiation dosimeters and even crude forgery.”
Even five years out, no one is allowed to live within 12.5 miles of stricken reactors. The hardships experienced by the Japanese people who had to flee Fukushima is well documented in the new short film Five Years On – Voices of Fukushima. About 180,000 remain displaced.
Coinciding with the PSR/IPPNW report launch March 9, Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar specializing in nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies, Institute for Public Studies, and former senior policy advisor, US Department of Energy, issued a statement highlighting their tragedy.
“Radioactive fallout from the reactors has created de faco ‘sacrifice zones’ where human habitation will no longer be possible well into the future,” Alvarez said. “In November 2011, the Japanese Science Ministry reported that long-lived radioactive cesium had contaminated 11,580 square miles (30,000 sq km) of the land surface of Japan. Some 4,500 square miles – an area almost the size of Connecticut – was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s allowable exposure rate.”
Some cries for justice are finally being heard in Japan. Three top TEPCO executives including the chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and two former executive vice presidents were indicted February 29 for professional negligence resulting in injury and death. It would seem unlikely that the judgement of these men will happen very quickly since it took five years to call them to task.
Cleaning up the mess in Fukushima won’t happen very quickly either, says TEPCO. The company says it needs 50 years to contain and remediate the reactors with the missing, oozing corium. It claims to have completed 10 percent of that work.
What appears to be a Sisyphean task to restore Fukushima is confirmed in the new March 4 Greenpeace report “Radiation Reloaded: Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 years later.” The comprehensive study found that “The current approach of Japanese authorities to forest decontamination is the removal of leaf litter, soil, and understory plants in 20 meter strips along the roads and around homes that are surrounded by forests. In terms of decontaminating the large areas of Fukushima this approach is futile. Over seventy percent of Fukushima prefecture is forested, which is not possible to decontaminate.”
Greenpeace found that even if there is decontamination, it may subsequently be undone. “Mountain streams and rivers transport radioactive particulates and contaminated forest litter downstream, potentially contaminating areas that did not receive fallout, recontaminating ‘decontaminated’ areas, or discharging radioactivity to estuaries and marine ecosystems,” the report said.
Complicating matters even more is hot mist getting into everything, literally. “Both caesium-bearing particulates as well as vaporized, water-soluble radiocaesium were released,” the report says. “Water-soluble caesium, which came down as wet deposition with precipitation and fog, is readily absorbed via bark and leaves into the internal tissues of trees. Hot particles appear to weather and leach caesium under natural conditions. In addition, radiocaesium and 90Sr can be absorbed via root systems. Once absorbed into the internal tissues of trees, 134Cs and 137Cs are translocated with nutrient flows, concentrating in rapidly growing tissues such as new foliar structures, flowers and pollen. Japanese cedar pollen in Fukushima forests appears to have high concentrations of radiocaesium.”
Radioactive fog, flowers and pollen? Yes, and hot honey too if the Fukushima sweet stuff soaks up the cesium like Croatian honey did from Chernobyl fallout adding fission to the flowers. It certainly has the potential to make even cherry tree festivals dangerous in the land of the rising radiation.
Naturally, it’s the perfect place to have the 2020 summer Olympics, i.e. Tokyo’s Radiation Olympics. If the swimming events are staged in Fukushima’s rivers, caution would be well advised if Greenpeace’s report is accurate.
“According to radiocaesium discharge projections for the century between 2011 and 2111, the major rivers whose catchments are primarily in Fukushima prefecture (the Abukuma, Arakawa, Naka, Agano, and Tadami rivers) could discharge as much caesium into the Pacific Ocean as is hemorrhaging from the Fukushima Daiichi plant itself,” the report says. “The Abukuma River alone is projected to discharge 111 TBq [Terabecquerel] of 137Cs [cesium-137] and 44 TBq of 134Cs [cesium-134], even with current rates of “decontamination”, in the century after the disaster.”
That is a lot of goo. All of it is headed for the Pacific Ocean. What goes into the water in Fukushima eventually makes its way on the Kuroshio Current to North American shores.
Just Say Glow
Many of the thousands of tests EnviroReporter.com has conducted and reported on since 2011 show Fukushima contamination in fish consumed in California and across America and Canada. Those tests keep coming in and include a variety of animals that have shown signs of Fukushima-related radionuclides in them.
In the summer of 2014, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division found Fuku rads in northern fur seals. “We detected very small amounts of Fukushima-derived radioactive material in the seal tissue,” the NOAA report says. “We didn’t find any detectable radiation in the marine debris. The two [graph] peaks … show radiation energy for two isotopes of Cesium; 134Cs and 137Cs detected in fur seal muscle.”
Cesium-134 is a Fukushima signature radioisotope because it’s half-life of 2.07 years precludes anything else from being the source like nuclear fallout from atmospheric testing decades ago. It usually is found in tandem with cesium-137 as it indeed was in the seal.
Both of these isotopes of cesium are extremely dangerous with the shorter the half-life, the more intense a rate of ionization. That’s what makes cesium-134 such a perilous poison. NOAA also revealed that it tested water itself positive for cesium-134. Albacore tuna from the East Pacific Ocean, a foodie favorite, came in with 9.6 times higher in cesium-134 than the fur seal reading.
“Estimated U.S. per capita consumption of fish and shellfish was 14.6 pounds (edible meat) in 2014,” according to recent NOAA data. “This total was essentially unchanged from the 14.5 pounds consumed in 2013.”
The U.S. fish feast of 2014 weighed in at 4,743,025 tons. Over 72 percent of that haul came from the Pacific with most of that harvested off of Alaska. That’s where so many Fukushima-related isotopes have been measured in all manner of flora and fauna over the last five years.
Foodies gone fishing from Fukushima who just have to have their seafood yet who care about radiation bioaccumulation can take heart. There are fresh water fish and seafood from the Atlantic Ocean. But eating anything out of the Pacific is lunched.
“I know humans do some pretty insanely stupid things, so I wonder,” Haws says of his Fukushima fishing screen capture. “Why else would those fish trolling lights be on… hmm? Did they unload their hefty catch at some far away port and say it came from somewhere else? It would be a crime beyond description. There are no fish police. At least not at 2:30 in the morning just east of ongoing TRIPLE MELTDOWNS.”
The image of that trawler fishing in the freezing night in the fission-rich waters off of Fukushima Dai-chi is truly disturbing. On whose plates will that catch land?
When it comes to Fukushima, and now five years of radioactive madness, most of America – and the world, seems to have simply gone fishing.