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Radiation from Fukushima

Editor's note: The most effective supplements to prevent damage induced by radiation may be vitamin C, according to a Japanese study. Fukushima nuclear disaster is not the only thing Americans need to be worried about. As many as 14 states have been polluted by the nuclear tests conducted in the U.S. in 50's, according to some reports. The clean states are only those in the West like Oregon, California, and maybe Washington as well.

By Dr. Mercola

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan, and fatally crippled TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Exactly how much radiation has poured out, contaminating not only cleanup crews but also residents in surrounding areas, remains unclear, as does the risk posed to the rest of the world from nuclear fallout.

One thing is clear: this disaster is far from over… and emerging evidence suggests the impacts may be far worse than we are being led to believe.

[Radiation Levels at Fukushima Now at Record Highs]

It's been over 1 year since the damage occurred, but it's just now being reported that samples from the basement of reactor number 1 revealed radiation levels that reached up to 10,300 millisievert (mSv) an hour, which is enough to make a person sick within minutes, and kill them shortly thereafter. To put this in perspective, the workers at this site reach their annual allowed radiation dose in 20 seconds.1

Needless to say, workers cannot go anywhere near the site, so robots must be used, and it's estimated that complete demolition of the plant will take four decades and require new cleanup technologies to be completed.

Adding to the already precarious situation, another of the reactor buildings – which houses 1,331 spent and 204 unused nuclear fuel assemblies, each of which contains approximately 50-70 nuclear rods – is now tilting and the walls are bulging outward. If another earthquake occurs or the building collapses, large amounts of radiation could be released into the environment.

Obviously, the situation is still incredibly volatile, so it is a mystery why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only conducted accelerated sampling from March to June 2011. When their tests reportedly showed that the radiation levels remained "well below any level of public health concern and were consistently declining," they switched back to their routine radiation monitoring.


But according to a report from the Congressional Research Service, radiation-contaminated debris from Japan may take up to three years before it reaches the U.S. West Coast:4

"Based on computer modeling of ocean currents, debris from the tsunami produced by the Tohoku earthquake was projected to spread eastward from Japan in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Approximately two to three years after the event, the debris plume likely will reach the U.S. West Coast, dumping debris on California beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California.

Although much of the radioactive release from Fukushima Dai-ichi is believed to have occurred after the tsunami, there is the possibility that some of the tsunami debris might also be contaminated with radiation."

They point out that although the ocean currents have a slow flow, there is still a threat posed because radioactive contaminants are incredibly persistent in the environment:

"Although these currents have the potential for bringing radiation from Japan's Fukushima Dai- ichi nuclear accident to U.S. waters, their flow is slow, and no radiation above background levels has yet been detected in marine waters under U.S. jurisdiction. Regardless of the slow flow, radioactive contaminants with long half-lives (e.g., cesium-137, with a half-life of about 30 years) could still pose concerns if transported over long distances by ocean currents."

Strangely, in the report they make mention of managing arriving debris in order to return items of potential personal, symbolic and cultural value, but do not discuss the radiation implications…

Case in point, 15 bluefin tuna caught near San Diego, California in August 2011 were found to contain Fukushima-derived radiation, including caesium-137 and caesium-134, at levels 10 times higher than those detected in previous years. The researchers noted:5


"These findings indicate that Pacific bluefin tuna can rapidly transport radionuclides from a point source in Japan to distant ecoregions and demonstrate the importance of migratory animals as transport vectors of radionuclides. Other large, highly migratory marine animals make extensive use of waters around Japan, and these animals may also be transport vectors of Fukushima-derived radionuclides to distant regions of the North and South Pacific Oceans."

Is Fukushima Worse Than Chernobyl?

When the Chernobyl reactor melted down in 1986, approximately 134 plant workers and firefighters were exposed to high doses of radiation – 800 to 16,000 mSv – and developed acute radiation sickness. Of those 134 workers, 28 died within 3 months of exposure.

In total, more than 160,000 children and 146,000 cleanup workers became victims of radiation poisoning as a result of living and working in that radiotoxic environment, raising the incidence of birth defects, leukemia, anemia, cancers, thyroid disease, liver and bone marrow degeneration, and overall severely compromised immune systems.

These, however, are only estimates, and according to some data, Chernobyl deaths may actually top 1 million. Fukushima is the largest nuclear disaster since, but there are many similarities popping up. For one, as the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) points out:7


"From the beginning, the official nuclear safety experts were at pains to minimize the projected health impacts, as they are doing now for the Fukushima accident."

According to ISIS, with Chernobyl, they underestimated related deaths by:

•Underestimating the level of radiation by averaging exposure over a large region, such as an entire country, so high exposure doses and health statistics of the most contaminated areas are lumped together with the less and least exposed

•Ignoring internal sources of radiation due to inhalation and ingestion of radioactive material from fallout

•Using an obsolete and erroneous model of linear energy transfer due to external sources of ionizing radiation

•Not counting diseases and conditions other than cancers

•Overestimating the natural background radiation; today's "background" has been greatly increased by discharges from nuclear activities including tests of nuclear weapons, use of depleted uranium, and uranium mining

•Suppressing and withholding information from the public

Writing in Forbes, Jeff McMahon also pointed out what appear to be strategies to minimize public perceptions of the real risks of the Fukushima radiation:

"Covering the story, I watched the government pursue what appeared to be two strategies to minimize public alarm:

•It framed the data with reassurances like this oft-repeated sentence from the EPA: 'The level detected is far below a level of public health concern.' The question, of course, is whose concern.

•The EPA seemed to be timing its data releases to avoid media coverage. It released its most alarming data set late on a Friday – data that showed radioactive fallout in the drinking water of more than a dozen U.S. cities."


And again, while downplaying the risks of contaminated U.S. seafood, the Congressional Research Service goes into great detail on the magnitude of radiation that entered the ocean water following the disaster:

"Seawater was monitored by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) near the discharge points of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant following the March 2011 events. Water with a dose rate of greater than 1,000 millisievert per hour was confirmed by TEPCO on April 2, 2011, in a pit located next to Fukushima Dai-ichi's Unit 2 seawater inlet point.

A cracked sidewall of this pit was leaking water from the pit directly into the ocean. Analyses of seawater taken from near the discharge from Fukushima Dai-ichi Units 1-4 yielded readings of 130,000 Becquerels/liter (Bq/l) of iodine-131 (half-life of about 8 days), 32,000 Bq/l of cesium-137 (half-life of about 30 years), and 31,000 Bq/l of cesium-134 (half-life of about 2 years).

…Experts cite this incident as the largest recorded accidental release of radiation to the ocean.

…It is unknown whether marine organisms that migrate through or near Japanese waters to locations where they might subsequently be harvested by U.S. fishermen (possibly some albacore tuna or salmon in the North Pacific) might have been exposed to radiation in or near Japanese waters, or might have consumed prey that had accumulated radioactive contaminants."




【2012/09/06 10:29】 | # | [edit]

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