By way of comparison, the California orange readings measured equivalently as a liquid are about as high as the last milk sampling results released January 14 by the University of California Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. The department measured homogenized milk from the San Francisco Bay Area with an expiration date of December 29, 2011. The results were Cs-134 at 0.068 Bq/l and Cs-137 at 0.052 Bq/l.
SecurityTokyo.com operates its own lab which is equipped with a state of the art isotopic identifier that detects radionuclides at levels far more sensitive than most radiological spectrometers. When asked what model of machine the group used to measure the radioactive California almonds, Security Tokyo’s Akane Yamamoto told EnviroReporter.com that it was a Germanium detector by Canberra which is highly respected in the rarefied world of isotopic identifiers. Units can cost tens of thousands of dollars and demand rigorous maintenance and expert operation.
Identifying isotopes is one of the most reliable methods in determining radioactive contamination’s origin. While some the most virulent radionuclides unleashed from the multiple meltdowns in Japan, like leukemia-causing Cs-137, are also in the environment on a far lesser scale from above ground atomic and hydrogen bomb tests from 1945 to 1980.
Cesium-137 with its 30.17-year half-life is one of the two main medium-lived fission products that has escaped from Fukushima on a scale that dwarfs Chernobyl along with strontium-90. Sr-90’s half-life is 28.8 years. While the strong beta indications picked up by EPA, journalist and citizen-led radiation stations across the country strongly suggest Fukushima contamination, even after taking into account local background radiation, radon progeny, location, geology and altitude; nothing proves the contamination like a short-lived radionuclide like Cs-134.
Cesium-134’s half-life is 2.07 years making it a fast decaying isotope that, if detected, could have only come from the bowels of the blown apart reactors and teetering spent fuel ponds a strong earthquake away from catastrophic collapse and the total irradiating of northern Japan.
Utilizing the Canberra Germanium detector, Security Tokyo tested a California naval orange that yielded 12.69 pCi/g of Cs-134 and 13.23 pCi/g of Cs-137. Measured as mass-equivalent liquids, each one of these cancer-causing radioisotopes is four times the EPA’s maximum contaminant level for drinking water on its own let alone added together.
Not only are these staggeringly high detections, they are radionuclides that wouldn’t be present in California oranges at any level in the first place before Fukushima even with minute amounts of Cs-137 still falling out from the Cold War.
Judging from the time of year the orange was purchased at a Tokyo supermarket, and by the photo of the fruit, the tested citrus was a navel orange which is available from December through May in California. Security Tokyo also tested the entire fruit which contains a high amount of water in the orange juice. Water acts as an inhibitor to detecting radiation which suggests that the dried content would have tested hotter.
Citrus is big business in California“California is the number-one economic citrus state in the nation, ranking first in the U.S. in terms of economic value and second (after Florida) in terms of production,” according to the Visalia California-based Citrus Research Board. “California produces approximately 80 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit citrus and is the country’s main source (80 percent) of fresh-market oranges (Florida grows oranges mainly for juice). California also supplies 87 percent of the nation’s lemons.”
The high level of Cs-134 and Cs-137 in the navel orange tested by Security Tokyo is most concerning considering the huge navel orange crop in California and its reputation as a premier fruit across the county and world. Citrus-producing giant Sunkist touts the variety saying it is “Considered the world’s finest orange for eating, navels are seedless, and they peel and segment easily.”
The USDA Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook reported a huge crop of navel oranges in the 2010 to 2011 season with 48 million boxes weighing 1,920,000 tons being picked in the Golden State worth $547,200,000. The overall California citrus harvest projected for the 2011 to 2012 season is down 8 percent with the navel crop expected to drop to 1.76 million tons.
Ironically, though in keeping with the geographical spread of Fukushima meltdowns contamination on the prevailing west-to-east air and ocean currents, Mandarin oranges grown in the Nagasaki Prefecture in southern Japan and tested by the Security Tokyo on February 14 came in negative for Iodine-131 as well as for the two cesium isotopes. Yet citrus registering Fukushima contamination has been found from California to Florida.
Five days after Security Tokyo’s California navel orange test, the group put a Florida grapefruit peel, also purchased from a Tokyo supermarket, to the test. The April 9 test results were also troubling: the grapefruit peel tested positive for 0.14 Bq/kg for Cs-137 which is considered one of the most dangerous radionuclides steaming out of the destroyed Fukushima reactors for the last year and a half. The only bright spot in the test was that Iodine-131 and Cesium-134 were not detected.
Florida’s grapefruits mostly end up as concentrate for juice which Americans consume on a per capita basis around 0.21 gallons per year out of the 64.7 million gallons produced in the 2011 to 2012 season. The 2010 to 2011 season saw 19,750,000 boxes of Florida grapefruits, weighing 840,000 tons, picked worth $211,698,666 according to the USDA report.
Oranges weren’t the only hot California fruit tested by Security Tokyo. Last month, dried prunes (or plums) produced in 2011 came in positive for both Cs-134, at 0.08 Bq/kg, and Cs-137 at 0.11 Bq/kg. The fruit’s expiration date for the sample was January 2013 as stamped on the package.
This disturbing finding has worldwide implications as California produces 99 percent of the country’s dehydrated plum supply and 60 percent of what is consumed worldwide according to the California Dried Plum Board. The French prune variety makes up 97 percent of the 55,000 acres devoted to growing the crop in California. The estimated 2010 crop of 126,637 tons was worth nearly $150 million according to calculations derived from the board’s tonnage estimate and the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) crop price estimate.
Last year a new ad campaign nationwide touted dried prunes as “The Sensational Superfruit” for its heart and bone health benefits as well as being tasty and effective aperients. Cesium-134 and Cs-137 cause blood and bone cancers including leukemia.
Unfortunately, mutation-inducing radionuclides have also been found in California nuts confirming that Fukushima radiation has further penetrated the Golden State’s soil and food supply. A July 2012 Security Tokyo test of California raw almonds found nearly as much of the two isotopes as was detected in the dried prunes: Cs-134 at 0.07 Bq/kg and Cs-137 at 0.10 Bq/kg for a total almond cesium total count of 0.17 Bequerels per kilogram.
NASS’ California’s 2011 to 2012 forecast for the upcoming almond harvest is 2 billion pounds, slightly less than 2011’s record-breaking haul of 2.03 billion pounds. The overall acreage devoted to almond-growing in the state increased 3 percent to 780,000 during the latest season with 2,560 pounds of the nut produced per acre of trees. The “value of production” of the wholesale crop was estimated to be $3,605,060,000.
Hot water in California nuts has California nuts in hot water. Much of hot water comes from the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range down an extensive network of streams, rivers, aqueducts and water canals in addition to the 20 inches of rain a year that California’s Central Valley receives.
The verdant valley grows a full quarter of the nation’s food and is home to about one-sixth of the irrigated land in country. The fertile Central Valley, stretching north and south for hundreds of miles ranging in width from 40 to 60 miles, is America’s primary source for tomatoes, grapes, cotton, apricots, asparagus and numerous other crops, all of which use the same water that has impacted the state’s agricultural products that came in hot when sampled and analyzed in Japan.
Security Tokyo is not the only company testing California food. “American Pistachio Nuts” were tested August 11 by the Maruetsu supermarket chain in Japan as part of radiation monitoring. The 200-store chain makes results available to the public in a laudable company practice rarely if ever seen in the United States.
The franchise operates throughout metropolitan Tokyo, the largest metropolitan area in the world with as many as 35 million people living within 150 to 200 miles of the Fukushima Dai-ichi multiple meltdowns site..
American pistachios are grown in California which has become second only to Iran in production of the tree nut. Shelled pistachios in the state’s 2012 harvest account for 117,240,000 pounds, a 14.5 percent increase from 2011. About half the yield from California’s 150,000 acres of pistachio groves is exported worldwide.
Incredibly, the tree nuts Maruetsu tested came back positive for Cesium-137 with the reading of 9.54 Bq/kg or 258.54 pCi/kg. That’s 68 times higher than the amount of Cs-137 found in the California orange and 95 times more than for the raw almonds that Security Tokyo tested.
This detection far exceeds any other known Cs-137 reading in a California food product including the positive Cs-137 hits that U.C. Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering had found in strawberries, kale, arugula as well as topsoils throughout the state in 2011.
The highest hit the school detected was in spinach from a Bay Area organic farm purchased April 7, 2011, three weeks after the triple meltdowns began. The spinach reading, 1.14 Bq/kg of Cs-137 along with 0.89 Bq/kg of Cs-134 and 2.50 Bq/kg of short-lived and deadly Iodine-131 caused quite a stir, so much so that the nuclear department claimed that a person would have to eat 888 pounds of the tainted spinach to be exposed to the equivalent radiation on a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Washington D.C..
The Berkeley Radiological Air and Water Monitoring Team (BRAWM) team has repeatedly characterized the threat of ingesting manmade isotopes like I-131, Cs-134 and Cs-137 plaguing California food in terms of relative dose received on jet flights across country. Unsound science trumpeted by scientists who should know better has concerned Fukushima fallout watchers because it gives people a false sense of security.
No one knows this more so than Dr. Wladimir Wertelecki, a geneticist and professor who chaired the Medical Genetics Department at the University of South Alabama from 1974 to 2010. Wertelecki told the Press-Register of Mobile July 16 that the threat of Fukushima was ongoing with inhalation or ingestion dangers making it, over time, a worse disaster than even the impact of the atomic bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.
The doctor, who compared eating a Fukushima-contaminated mushroom with getting hundreds of chest x-rays worth of radiation, is not alone in acknowledging the dangers of the most fearsome isotopes on the planet getting into millions of people’s bodies. Wertelecki’s concerns are also reflected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which doesn’t compare intake of radiation to a plane trip.
“Exposure by the ingestion pathway occurs when someone swallows radioactive materials,” says the EPA. “Alpha and beta emitting radionuclides are of most concern for ingested radioactive materials. They release large amounts of energy directly to tissue, causing DNA and other cell damage. Ingested radionuclides can expose the entire digestive system. Some radionuclides can also be absorbed and expose the kidneys and other organs, as well as the bones.”
“Maruetsu wants to feed you” says the Japanese supermarket giant’s website, the same laudable company that shared its lab results showing the California pistachios with the astonishing amounts of Cesium-137. And, according to Japanese rules, Maruetsu is well within limits to sell the toasty nuts to the Japanese public because the 9.54 Bq/kg is well under the 100 Bq/kg of cesium that is considered safe for food consumption in that Far Eastern country. This comes from a recent decision to lower the acceptable level of beta-emitting goo in food from 500 Bq/kg to a fifth that.
Contradictorily, before the Fukushima disaster, 100 Bq/kg of cesium or more was considered nuclear waste in Japan and had to be disposed of in special containers and monitored. Now, in a frenzy of radioactive rubble incineration the length and breadth of the island that is sowing national discord, the Japanese have raised the level to 8,000 Bq/kg before material is considered hot.
Japanese standards vary wildly with American ones. The U.S. EPA drinking water standard for beta emitters like Cs-134 and Cs-137 is 3 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) while the Japanese one is 271 pCi/l, over 90 times higher. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s picocurie limit for milk is 4,700 pCi/l while the Japanese one is 1,355 pCi/l.