Sometimes when I type it, it comes out Fuckushima. That’s really what it is…radiation is still leaking…it’s leaking a lot. It’s showing up in blue fin tuna off the coast of California…but stay calm…it’s no more than a chest x-ray right?
Americans have forgotten about Fukushima (dang that was hard to type correctly). I don’t think about it everyday. It’s only in the past month that some news has been spreading. Here’s a brief summary so you to
Don’t forget about Fukushima!
Nukefree.org The Fukushima Nightmare Gets Even Worse (8/9/13)
Massive quantities of radioactive liquids are now flowing through the shattered reactor site into the Pacific Ocean. And their make-up is far more lethal than the “mere” tritium that has dominated the headlines to date…
In fact, there is no certainty as to what’s causing this out-of-control flow of death and destruction. Some 29 months after three of the six reactors exploded at the Fukushima Daichi site, nobody can offer a definitive explanation of what is happening there or how to deal with it…
In the wake of the March 11, 2011 disaster, Tepco led the public to believe that it had largely contained the flow of contaminated water into the Pacific. But now it admits that not only was that a lie, but that the quantities of water involved—apparently some 400,000 gallons per day—are very large…
This is very bad news.
Iodine-131, for example, can be ingested into the thyroid, where it emits beta particles (electrons) that damage tissue. A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40% of the children in the Fukushima area. That percentage can only go higher. In developing youngsters, it can stunt both physical and mental growth. Among adults it causes a very wide range of ancillary ailments, including cancer.
Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California. It spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in the muscles. Strontium-90’s half-life is around 29 years. It mimics calcium and goes to our bones.
That these are among the isotopes being dumped into the Pacific is the worst news to come from Japan since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose bombings occurred 68 years ago this week, and whose fallout has been vastly exceeded at Fukushima.
Indeed, Japanese experts have already estimated Fukushima’s fallout at 20-30 times as high as the 1945 bombings. This latest revelation will send that number soaring.
National Geographic Latest Radioactive Leak at Fukushima: How Is It Different? (8/21/13)
In the latest crisis to strike the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has discovered that 300 tons (nearly 72,000 gallons) of highly radioactive water has leaked from a holding tank into the ground over the past month.
The development comes on top of TEPCO’s admission last month that an estimated 300 tons of radioactive groundwater, which picks up small amounts of contamination when it flows through the damaged reactor buildings, has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean every day. (See related story: “Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Leak: What You Should Know.”)
The new storage tank leak presents a different and potentially more serious problem than the ongoing groundwater flow leaks.
The water from the leaking tank is so heavily contaminated with strontium-90, cesium-137, and other radioactive substances that a person standing less than two feet away would receive, in an hour’s time, a radiation dose equivalent to five times the acceptable exposure for nuclear workers, Reuters reported.
Within ten hours, the exposed person would develop radiation sickness, with symptoms such as nausea and a drop in white blood cells.
A More Hazardous Leak
The latest leak comes from one of the massive array of 1,000 above-ground storage tanks built inside the plant by TEPCO, which store water that deliberately has been pumped into the damaged reactors in an effort to cool the nuclear fuel inside and prevent a meltdown. Such water is heavily contaminated and dangerous compared with the larger radioactive groundwater flow problem, which scientists say does not pose an immediate health hazard to humans (though it has made some types of fish from the area unsafe for consumption).
The Japanese government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is calling the leak a “serious accident” and wants to raise the official threat level from 1 to 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale—the highest level since the level 7 rating given when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the facility.
Holistic Squid Should We Be Worried About Radiation in Fish?
According to this article from Japan Times, a fish caught directly in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s small harbor contained 510,000 becquerels (bq) of radioactive cesium per kilogram – 5,100 times above the state-set safety limit. If someone were to eat to eat 2.2 pounds of a fish with this level of contamination, they would be exposed to about 7.7 mSv of internal radiation – the same amount of radiation as a chest x-ray.
That’s pretty gnarly, and I’m definitely not interested in eating a chest x-ray worth of radiation for dinner. But, the fish we eat here in the U.S. does not come from the waters around the nuclear disaster site in Japan.
So then, you many have also heard that tuna was caught off the shores of San Diego, CA, that had traces of caesium that indicated that the fish had come from the waters around Fukushima. However, you’d need to eat 2.5 to 4 tons of that tuna in a year to get a dose of cesium-137 that exceeds health limits. (source)
Personally, that’s a relief to me. I’d have to eat 6.8 pounds of contaminated fish per DAY for my consumption to be toxic.
Here’s my take home about radiation in fish:
Just like the rest of your food – know your source. Buy wild caught fish that are not Japanese bottom-feeders (which you’re not likely to find anyway). IF you’re in Japan, find out where the fish is from. In my opinion, the health benefits of seafood outweigh the risk of radiation poisoning.
Although I find the last post reassuring (I don’t eat fish, but my family does), I also think comparisons can be a bit misleading. I want to limit my radiation exposure. Being assured Fukushima radiation is no more than a chest x-ray doesn’t make me feel better. I’ve never had a chest x-ray. My son has, but that was once, before open-heart surgery. It doesn’t happen frequently.
We are constantly exposed to radiation. This is true. Additional radiation, no matter the source, should always be concern. Whether from our cell phone or a nuclear disaster, we need to limit it.