Not a Fish Tale: Humans Are Ingesting Plastic Thanks to Ocean Pollution

By Dahr Jamail
Global Research, December 15, 2018
Truthout 21 March 2016
Region: USA
(Of relevance to current developments, this article was first published by Truthout and posted on Global Research in March 2016)

Humans generate more than 300 million tons of plastic annually — an amount equal to the combined body weight of the entire global adult human population — and nearly half of the plastic is only used one time before it is tossed away to eventually find its way to the oceans. So it should come as little surprise that by 2050, it is a virtual certainty that every seabird on the planet will have plastic in its stomach.

Recent estimates indicate that upwards of 8 million tons of plastic are added to the planet’s oceans every year, the equivalent of a dump truck full of plastic every minute. That is enough plastic to have led one scientist to estimate that people who consume average amounts of seafood are ingesting approximately 11,000 particles of plastic every year.

The earth’s oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050, according to a January report published by the World Economic Forum.

Experts with whom Truthout spoke on the topic confirmed that these trends are likely to continue. Biological oceanographer Dr. Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez, with the National Oceanography Centre at Britain’s University of Southampton, is very concerned about public indifference to the urgency of the situation.

“Marine pollution is a big issue,” Iglesias-Rodriguez told Truthout.

“There is this idea that oceans have unlimited inertia, but nanoparticles of plastic getting into marine animals and the food chain are affecting fish fertility rates, and this affects food security and coastal populations. Pollution is having a huge impact on the oceans and is urgent and needs to be dealt with.”

Photo: Plastic Bag via Shutterstock; Edited: LW / TO

“Unexpected Results”

In the North Pacific Ocean, there exists what has become known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a phenomenon scientists know as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

Miriam Goldstein, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, warned Truthout that by adding massive amounts of plastic into the oceans, humans are causing large-scale change to the oceans’ entire ecological system.

Goldstein is the lead author of a study that revealed just how deeply into the oceanic ecosystem plastic has already embedded itself.

“We found eggs on the pieces of plastic, and these were sea skater [insect] eggs,” Goldstein said. “Sea skaters naturally occur in the gyre and are known to lay their eggs on floating objects. So we found that the amount of eggs being laid had increased with the amount of plastic.”

The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre’s eastern section, located between Hawai’i and California, is estimated to be about twice the size of Texas. According to Goldstein, this vast “garbage patch” contains an “alarming amount” of plastic garbage, the majority of which is comprised of very small-size pieces.

Goldstein’s study shows how the immense amount of plastic is creating consequences for animals across the marine food web.

Another Scripps study shows that nearly 10 percent of the fish collected during a trip to the gyre had plastic waste in their stomachs.

Published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, the aforementioned study (authored by Peter Davison and Rebecca Asch) estimates that fish at intermediate ocean depths in the North Pacific Ocean could be ingesting plastic at the staggering rate of 12,000 to 24,000 tons per year.

Yet plastic will not likely be going away anytime soon. The use of plastic bags around the world has increased by 20 times in the last 50 years. One-third of all plastic packaging then escapes collection systems, and a large percentage of that plastic eventually ends up in the oceans, according to the World Economic Forum report.

Only 5 percent of plastics are effectively recycled, and the production of plastics is expected to increase by at least 1.12 billion tons by 2050.

“Our work shows there could be potential effects to the ocean ecosystem that we can’t expect or predict,” Goldstein said.

“There are five subtropical gyres, one in each ocean basin, and they are natural currents. They are vast areas of the oceans; together they comprise the majority of the area of the oceans. So altering them on a large scale could have unexpected results on all kinds of things.”

Ocean 3.0?

The amount of plastic floating in the Pacific Gyre has increased 100-fold in the past four decades. Meanwhile, phytoplankton counts are dropping, overfishing is causing dramatic decreases in fish populations, decreasing ocean salinity is intensifying weather extremes, and warming oceans are speeding up melting in Greenland, the Arctic and in Antarctica.

One warning of humanity’s increasingly deleterious impact on the oceans comes from prominent marine biologist Jeremy Jackson of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jackson emphasizes that, without profound and prompt changes in human behavior, we will cause a “mass extinction in the oceans with unknown ecological and evolutionary consequences.”

The statement might sound extreme, until one considers the extent to which we impact the oceans, whether we realize it or not. As science journalist Alanna Mitchell has written about the oceans:

“Every tear you cry … ends up back in the ocean system. Every third molecule of carbon dioxide you exhale is absorbed into the ocean. Every second breath you take comes from the oxygen produced by plankton.”

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, told Truthout he finds plastic on every beach he visits across the globe, and added, “Probably every sea turtle on the planet interacts with plastic at some point in its life.”

Not only is Nichols intimately familiar with the pollution crisis plastic poses to the oceans, but also he is well acquainted with the oceanic destruction already underway due to anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

He describes sea turtles as a “poster species” for the impacts of ACD: He said their eggs

“are literally cooking on beaches now because the temperatures have moved out of the tolerable range.”

“You often see the polar bear used as the poster species for climate change, but I think sea turtles are just as good of a poster species because they are everywhere and they are already being impacted as the ocean warms,”

Nichols added.

In addition to ACD and plastic, he notes that we are introducing too much pollution into the oceans, and taking too much out of them by way of overfishing.

“We’re putting too much in, in all forms of pollution; we’re taking too much out by fishing, overfishing and bycatch; and we’re destroying the edge of the ocean, the places where there is the most biodiversity, reefs, mangroves, seagrass etc.,” he said. “Those are the three big buckets…. Almost every threat to the ocean falls into one of those. We need to put less in, take less out and protect the edges by making some of them off limits to human activity.”

Nichols is deeply concerned by the pace at which negative changes are occurring across the oceans. He said that every time scientists have attempted to predict future scenarios, the pace seems to only quicken.

According to Nichols, despite scientists’ ongoing attempts to adjust their models to keep up with the quickening of feedback loops and other issues, we are still unable to keep pace with the dramatic changes.

He believes “the clock in many ways has already run out,” due to the fact that we are still increasing our use of fossil fuels, while continuing to generate so much plastic and pollution. Nichols says he is frustrated by the fact that despite there being more conversation about these issues now than ever before, that dialogue is still not translating into societal change or evolution.

Truthout asked Nichols if he sees the future becoming worse for the oceans.

“We’re living in it now, from a climate change/fisheries/pollution/habitat destruction point of view, our nightmare is here; it’s the world we live in,” he said. “You see it everywhere now, the collapsing fisheries, the changes in the Arctic and the hardships communities that live there are having to face, the frequency and intensity of storms — everything we imagined 40 years ago when the environmental movement was born, we’re dealing with those now.”

Nichols concluded by describing three possible oceans. Ocean 1.0 is the pristine natural ocean, while Ocean 2.0 is the ocean we have now, which is a result of having, as he described it, lived under “the petroleum product regime.”

“Ocean 3.0 is the future ocean, and it can either be a dead ocean, or we can really come up with some very innovative solutions that right now people aren’t even talking about,” he said.

To Nichols, a positive vision of Ocean 3.0 would entail new ways of getting food from the ocean that don’t involve long lines and bottom trawling, both extremely destructive ways to fish commercially.

It would involve a whole new way of thinking about our packaging and a zero-waste approach to consumer goods, which, he believes, is all possible — if we can muster the political and personal motivation.

“We could have a healthy ocean in 50 years if we make some bold moves,” he said. Those moves would need to include “a cleaner, more responsible set of actions for how we get energy from the ocean and how we use them as a source of food.”

Without those actions happening en masse, Nichols fears we are headed for the “dead ocean” version of our future.

“The dire predictions — they are already here in many, many ways,” he said.

Corrections: Miriam Goldstein was originally attributed the statement of her study having “dire” consequences, which was inaccurately attributed, and hence corrected. Goldstein’s quotes were in close proximity of the sentence, “Not only is it leading to early deaths of animals that ingest it, but also humans then ingesting fish with plastic in their systems are at increased risk of cancer and other health issues.” Please note that this information is not in any way intended to be attributed to Goldstein’s research.
How Ocean Pollution Affects Human Health

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.
The original source of this article is Truthout
Copyright © Dahr Jamail, Truthout, 2018

China warns nationals visiting Japan over high radiation levels in Fukushima


China warns nationals visiting Japan over high radiation levels in Fukushima

China warns nationals visiting Japan over high radiation levels in Fukushima

The Chinese Embassy in Japan on Sunday issued an alert to its nationals who have plans to travel in Japan, reminding them of the high-level radiation inside a damaged reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the facility’s operator, announced last week that the radiation levels detected inside the plant’s No. 2 reactor had reached 650 Sieverts per hour, even higher than the previous record of 530 Sieverts per hour in January.

Even with a 30 percent margin of error, the reading is described by many experts as “unimaginable.” It is much higher than the 73 Sieverts an hour, which was detected in 2012, one year after the nuclear plant’s collapse. Under such exposure, a person would only be able to survive a few minutes at most.

The TEPCO on Thursday sent a remotely controlled robot into the reactor, equipped with a camera that is designed to withstand up to 1,000 Sieverts of cumulative exposure. The robot was pulled out after it broke down only two hours into the probe.

The company is planning to send better robots to conduct more detailed probes. However, it insists that radiation has not leaked outside the reactor.

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China has issued safety alerts to its nationals over the high-level radiation. He added that China hopes that the Japanese government could clarify how they are going to thoroughly eliminate the impact caused by the nuclear accident.

Six years have now passed after three reactors at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant were damaged by a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. After the accident, the local government ordered residents living within 30-kilometer radius around the Fukushima nuclear plant to evacuate.

http://www.ecns.cn/travel/2017/02-13/245088.shtml

ENENews: Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years — Officials: High cliffs just behind plant may become unstable — Gov’t: “Observable heaving” and deformations possible


Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years — Officials: High cliffs just behind plant may become unstable — Gov’t: “Observable heaving” and deformations possible (VIDEO)
Published: May 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/experts-fukushima-ice-wall-could-destroy-reactor-
buildings-turn-site-swamp-concern-fractures-ground-movement-subsidence-
around-structures-will-stay-frozen-200-year-period-govt-observable-heav?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy
+News%29


AP, Apr 29, 2016 (emphasis added): Fukushima No. 1 plant’s ice wall won’t be watertight, says chief architect… Even if the frozen barrier… works as envisioned, it will not completely block all water… because of gaps in the wall… said Yuichi Okamura, a chief architect… Tepco resorted to [this] after it became clear it had to do something drastic… [Okamura said,] “We have come up against many unexpected problems.” The water woes are just part of the many obstacles… No one has even seen the nuclear debris…


Huffington Post, Apr 1, 2016: ‘Ice Wall’ Is Japan’s Last-Ditch Effort To Contain Fukushima Radiation… [It’s] a desperate attempt to stop radiation that’s been leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for five years…

Kyodo, Mar 30, 2016: The NRA warned earlier that if the groundwater levels within the [ice] walls is reduced excessively by blocking the flow from outside, highly contaminated water within the buildings could seep out as a result.

Proposal for controlling ground water and radioactive leakage in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (by World Water and Climate Foundation): [TEPCO] has a plan to freeze soil around the plant… this idea may not be sustainable… over the 200-year period that will be required for the reactors to be decommissioned.… The problem with freezing… is that solutes may be expelled from the ice… This can result in extremely concentrated saline solutions that do not freeze even at low temperatures. It is likely that under these conditions radioactive materials could become highly concentrated in dense brines that could then flow as density currents… Also, heating and cooling during the four annual seasons in Japan may make the ground of the station site softer and wetter like a swamp, and it could create another risk to the reactors, such as building destruction… The authors would like to express sincere thanks to Dr. W.F. Vincent, Dr. I. Ostrovsky, Dr. S. Kudoh and Dr. L. Legendre for their valuable comments and suggestions for strengthening this proposal.

Los Alamos National Laboratory: Integrated model of groundwater flow and radionuclide migration at Fukushima Daiichi… we will be able to answers critical questions such as… Will the cryogenic barrier lead to salt water intrusion at the site thereby mobilizing contaminants such as Cs and Sr that are mobile under high salinity conditions?

U.S. Department of Energy, 2015: Independent Technical Support for the Frozen Soil Barrier… several references discuss soil heave in the context of artificial ground freezing… It is possible that some observable heaving will occur directly above and directly adjacent to the frozen soil barrier… Monitoring of temperatures, heave pressures, and deformations… would provide information to assist in managing impacts from soil heave…


Geological Survey of Japan, 2015: [T]he sustainability of the ice wall remains doubtful… Furthermore, the ice lenses will grow irregularly as per the distribution of chiller pipes, and the sediment desaturation might lead to the aquitards’ compaction and subsidence around the buildings. In effect, a decrease in pore water pressure could increase the effective stress of the ground and result in movements and the formation of fractures in the superficial units.

IAEA, 2016: The IAEA group of experts reviewed the status of groundwater inflow, countermeasures and modelling… During the visit to Daiichi NPS on 18 February 2016, groundwater seepage on the slopes [i.e. cliffs over 100 feet high directly behind plant] that have been covered with facing was observed by the IAEA experts… seepage through the facing could create geotechnical instability on the slope if horizontal drains are not installed…

Watch TEPCO’s video on the ‘ice wall’ here

Published: May 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm ET
By ENENews
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Related Posts

Officials: Buildings sinking next to Fukushima reactors — Experts: We know structures decaying, getting more unstable — ‘Plant deterioration investigation’ underway — Molten fuel thought to be eating away structural materials (VIDEO) July 29, 2015
Nuclear Expert in Fukushima: People’s feet turned black for years because radiation so high — Every time I turned around I saw someone who had radiation damage — Hair falling out, caughing up blood, bodies covered with boils… Officials keeping doctors from telling truth… Public being brainwashed (VIDEO) April 11, 2016
Nuclear Expert: This is just 1st radioactive wave hitting U.S. and Canada; Fukushima pouring into ocean, unstoppable for years and years — Marine Expert: No sign it will stop anytime soon; Plant unstable, potentially worse than Chernobyl (AUDIO) January 21, 2014
Radiation levels have surged at Fukushima plant — 100,000% of previous record high — TV: “Officials say they don’t know the cause… Typhoon may be to blame” (VIDEO) October 26, 2014
TV: “Barrier is not holding” at Fukushima plant — All efforts have failed to stop very high levels of radioactive materials flowing into ocean — Officials: More water’s coming in than we were pumping out — Workers now trying to prevent overflow (VIDEO) November 19, 2014

May 2nd, 2016 | Category: Audio/Video Clips, Fukushima Daiichi, Japan (Fukushima)

ENENews: ““Fatally high” levels of radioactive material has entered ocean… serious pollution is ongoing”


TV: North America will not be safe from Fukushima radiation if plant keeps leaking — Animals “suddenly died” on west coast right after 2011 disaster… Whole world noticed this strange phenomenon — “Fatally high” levels of radioactive material has entered ocean… serious pollution is ongoing (VIDEO)
http://enenews.com/tv-west-coast-north-america-will-be-safe-fukushima-radiation-ocean-contamination-continues-animals-suddenly-died-shores-canada-after-nuclear-disaster-fatally-high-levels-radioactive-material-flo?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: April 28th, 2016 at 11:45 am ET
By ENENews
Arirang (Government-funded Korean TV network), ‘Fukushima and Its Aftermath’, Mar 16, 2016:
28:00 in — Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada. Right after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in 2011, seals suddenly died on the shores of Vancouver, and Cesium levels five times the usual amount were detected in the seaweed and fish. The whole world took notice of the strange phenomena that occurred on the shores of Vancouver, thousands of kilometers away from Japan. One Canadian research center has been analyzing marine plants on the Vancouver shores since 2012 to identify the cause. The result of their tests showed that iodine and cesium were detected in much of their marine plants…

31:20 in — Not many people directly feel the dangers of radiation yet, but if the Fukushima radiation contamination continues, not even Canada will be safe. The Japanese government is still dumping contaminated water into the sea.

31:35 in — Hisako Sakiyama, former head researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Science: “There is a lot of strontium as well as tritium in the contaminated water. There will be serious problem if those matters reach outside… Buts since the Fukushima accident, the contaminated water has been flowing underground… It is flowing into the sea from somewhere. So the sea is also becoming contaminated.”

32:20 in — Tepco has been insisting that no radioactive materials have been detected in the sea. However it’s been confirmed through press reports that fatally high concentrations of radioactive material has been leaked to the sea. [Graphic: “The problem of radioactive materials from Fukushima leaking into the sea still serious… it has been revealed that ‘serious ocean pollution has been going on.'”]

42:15 in — The Fukushima accident was catastrophic not just to Japan but to humanity as a whole. There have been considerable damages until now, but no one knows how far the damages will be in the future. The Fukushima accident is not a thing of the past but something that is ongoing even now and the future that we will face.

Watch the broadcast here

Published: April 28th, 2016 at 11:45 am ET
By ENENews
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ENENews & Arnie Gunderson: “We’ve contaminated the biggest source of water on planet, and there’s no way to stop it”

Nuclear Engineer: “Alarm bells” are going off over Fukushima plume coming to US West Coast — People will be dying from radiation that’s flowing across Pacific — Massive amounts of nuclear waste are flowing into ocean every day, and will for more than a century — “We’ve contaminated the biggest source of water on planet, and there’s no way to stop it” (VIDEO)

 http://enenews.com/nuclear-engineer-alarm-bells-going-fukushima-radioactive-plume-west-coast-people-will-die-radiation-flowing-across-pacific-weve-contaminated-biggest-source-water-planet-stop-video?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: April 7th, 2016 at 1:12 pm ET
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Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen on Fukushima@5, Mar 7, 2016 (emphasis added): Massive amounts of radiation continue to enter Japan’s water and air, and the Pacific Ocean, daily… Due to its triple meltdowns and the unmitigable radioactive releases, Fukushima Daiichi will continue to bleed radiation into the Pacific Ocean for more than a century… There is no road map to follow with directions to stop the ongoing debacle…

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen on KPFA, Mar 30, 2016: [Univ. of California] Berkeley’s nuclear program has been in the forefront of the pro-nuclear propaganda for decades, and since Fukushima has been aggressively downplaying the significance of it. So, whatever comes out of Berkeley, I just attribute to a very pro-nuclear faculty… [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is] measuring 1,000 miles offshore [of the US West Coast] and… picking up 10 becquerels per cubic meter [Bq/m3]. At my point, that’s when my alarm bells go off is 10 [Bq/m3]… Thatplume is still coming, the Pacific is a huge place and to think that a disaster on the opposite side of the world can be detected and begin to contaminate California, I think that themonumental shattering conclusion [is] radiation knows no borders… So this ‘dilution is the solution to pollution’ is what I think Berkeley believes in. What you can be sure of is that somebody’s going to die from the radiation that’s in the Pacific, but you just won’t know who it is – and they’re counting on that. The nuclear establishment is saying, ‘Well, we can smear that out in a broader epidemiological study.’

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen on CCTV, Apr 5, 2016: We’re looking at newspaper coverage from the last couple of weeks and it’s clear that the plant continues to hemorrhage.

Fairewinds Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 1, Feb 12, 2016:

  • Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen: [T]he Fukushima power plants… continues to bleed into the Pacific every day. But what no one is paying any attention to is that the entire mountain range that runs 100 miles up and down this coast is also contaminated. And as much radiation is pouring out… into the Pacific from the mountain range because it’s so contaminated, as from the Fukushima site… in fact, they’ve got an entire state pouring radiation into the Pacific. So what’s in the Pacific? Off of California, they’re finding radiation at what I would consider significant levels… in a cubic meter of ocean water, they’re finding 10 radioactive decays every second… So a cubic meter of water, if you’re in a dark room, would have 10 flashes of light every second, and that’s going to go on for 300 years. So we have contaminated the biggest source of water on the planet, and there’s no way to stop it.
  • Maggie Gundersen, founder of Fairewinds: So are you saying that the contaminated water problem is hopeless? Is there nothing we can do to slow it down?
  • Arnie Gundersen: It used to be that scientists believed dilution is the solution to pollution. But I think we’re finding with the biggest body of water on the planet, that you can’t dilute this stuff. And we’re going to begin to see this bio-accumulation, which is all the fish that are in the ocean are going to uptake the cesium and the strontium and become more and more and more radioactive

ENENews: “100% death rate of baby seals on California coast — ‘None have survived'”

100% death rate of baby seals on California coast — “None have survived” — “Many are starving, suffering from shortage of food in Pacific Ocean” — “Extremely thin… all sorts of illnesses, infections” — “Milkless moms immediately abandoning pups” — TV: “The problem is getting worse” (VIDEOS)

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…secret pact with Japan within one month of the meltdown for the U.S. to continue importing Japanese foodstuff, no questions asked”

Is Fukushima Getting Worse?
http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/is-fukushima-getting-worse/
by Robert Hunziker / June 28th, 2015

There are some really interesting issues within this article from June 2015.
One of those is this:

“Japan would be wise to suggest China first consult with the United States because confidently, audaciously, imperturbably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allegedly signed a secret pact with Japan within one month of the meltdown for the U.S. to continue importing Japanese foodstuff, no questions asked”. (Deborah Dupre, “Radiating Americans: Fukushima rain, Clinton’s Secret Food Pact”, Examiner.com, August 14, 2011).

Another is:
“Of the three major nuclear disasters, Fukushima has its own uniqueness. The seriousness of the problem is immense, far-reaching, and daunting as its containment vessels are leaking radioactivity every day, every hour, every minute. How to stop it is not known, which is likely the definition of a nuclear meltdown!”
———————————————————————

Is Fukushima Getting Worse?
http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/is-fukushima-getting-worse/
by Robert Hunziker / June 28th, 2015

The Fukushima multiple nuclear disasters continue spewing out hot stuff like there’s no tomorrow. By all appearances, it is getting worse, out-of-control nuclear meltdowns.

On June 19th TEPCO reported the highest-ever readings of strontium-90 outside of the Fukushima plant ports. The readings were 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of strontium-90 at two locations near water intakes for Reactors 3 and 4. TEPCO has not been able to explain the spike up in readings. The prior highest readings were 700,000 Bq/m3.

Strontium-90 is a byproduct of nuclear reactors or during the explosion of nuclear weapons; e.g., it is considered the most dangerous component of radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon.1 It is a cancer-causing substance because it damages genetic material (DNA) in cells. Strontium-90 is not found in nature. It’s a byproduct of the nuclear world of today; e.g., strontium-90 was only recently discovered, as of August 2014, for the first time ever, by the Vermont Health Department in ground water at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. Coincidentally, Vermont Yankee, as of December 29, 2014, is being shut down.

When a fission chain reaction of uranium-235 or plutonium-239 is active in a nuclear power station containment vessel, it produces a vast array of deadly radioactive isotopes. Strontium-90 is but one of those. So, somewhere in Fukushima Dai-ichih a lot of atoms are splitting like crazy (meanwhile Einstein e=mc2 turns over in his grave) and ergo, a lot of strontium-90 pops out and hangs around for decades upon decades. This is not a small problem.

Which may be why Einstein famously said, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”

For example, a large amount of strontium-90 erupted into the atmosphere from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion (1986), spread over the old Soviet Republics and parts of Europe. Thereby, strontium-90, along with other radioactive isotopes, kills and maims people, a lot of people, to this day, more on this later.

Farming in Fukushima

Because of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, farmers in the greater area have had a tough go of it. For example, on June 6, 2013 Japanese farmers met with TEPCO and government officials, including the official in charge of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Translated and Edited by World Network for Saving Children from Radiation).

The 13-minute video of the farmers’ meeting with officials shows farmers testifying about contaminated food that, “We won’t eat ourselves, but we sell it… I know there is radiation in what we grow. I feel guilty about growing and selling them to consumers.”

Well, sure enough, officials from New Taipei City’s Department of Health (Taipei, Taiwan), and other law-enforcement authorities, seized mislabeled products from Japan. It seems that “more than 283 Japanese food products imported from the radiation-stricken areas near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster were found to be relabeled as having come from other areas of Japan and sold to local customers.”2

Meanwhile, within a couple of months of the illicit underhanded devious mislabeling incident, Taiwan draws a line in the sand for Japanese foodstuff.3

Not only that but on the heels of Taiwan’s discovery of the mislabeling gimmick, and only three months later, this past week, Japanese authorities are asking China to remove the restrictions.4 Previously, China banned food imports from ten prefectures in Japan, including Miyagi, Nagano, and Fukushima.

Japan would be wise to suggest China first consult with the United States because confidently, audaciously, imperturbably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allegedly signed a secret pact with Japan within one month of the meltdown for the U.S. to continue importing Japanese foodstuff, no questions asked.5

Meantime, Chancellor Merkel (PhD, physics) ordered a shutdown of nuclear power plants throughout Germany. Hmm.

Fukushima and Our Radioactive Ocean

According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Video- March 2015:

When Fukushima exploded, radioactive gases and particles escaped into the atmosphere. Most fell nearby on land and in the ocean. A smaller amount remained in the air, and within days, circled the globe… in the ocean close to Fukushima, levels of cesium-137 and 134, two of the most abundant radioactive materials released, peaked at more than 50,000,000 times above background levels.

Nevertheless, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:

Scientists who have modeled the plume predict that radioactivity along the West Coast of North America will increase, but will remain at levels that are not a threat to humans or marine life.

To date, based upon actual testing of water and marine life in the Pacific Ocean by Woods Hole, radioactive levels along the North American West Coast remain low, not a threat to humans, not a threat to marine life, so far.

Fukushima and its Ocean Impact

According to Dr. Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, March 11, 2015, cesium uptake in the marine food web is diluted, for example, when Bluefin tuna swim across the Pacific, they lose, via excretion, about one-half of the cesium intake that is ingested in Japanese waters.

Expectantly, there are no commercial fisheries open in the Fukushima-affected areas of Japan. On a continual monitoring basis, no fishing is allowed in contaminated areas off the coastlines.

When contamination levels of fish in Japan are compared to fish along the coast of North America, the levels of radiation are relatively low in Canada and in the U.S. As a result, according to studies by Woods Hole, eating fish from the U.S. Pacific region is okay.

Not only that, but rather than categorical acceptance of U.S. government statements about safety from radiation in ocean currents, Dr. Buesseler established a citizen’s network called “How Radioactive is Our Ocean?” where individuals contribute by voluntarily taking samples. Every sample from the West Coast had cesium-137, but the numbers are low and at levels harmless to humans, thus far.

But, on a cautionary note, Dr. Buesseler is the first one to admit the situation requires constant monitoring.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s findings are not sufficient to dismiss health concerns for many reasons, among of which Fukushima is white hot with radioactivity, tenuously hanging by a thread, extremely vulnerable to another earthquake or even an internally generated disruption. Who knows? It is totally out of control!

The California Coastal Commission issued a report that agrees with the low levels of Fukushima-derived radionuclides detected in air, drinking water, food, seawater, and marine life in California; however, “it should be noted that the long-term effects of low-level radiation in the environment remain incompletely understood….”6

The risk of long-term exposure to low-level radiation is unclear. Studies of radiotherapy patients and others indicate that there is a significant increase in cancer risk if lifetime exposure exceeds 100,000 microsieverts, according to the World Health Organization. A person exposed daily to radiation at the high end of the levels now seen at Miyakoji [a village in Fukushima Prefecture] would reach that lifetime exposure level in fewer than 23 years.7

Current Status of Fukushima Nuclear Site

According to Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who travels to Japan to measure radiation levels: The site continues to leak radioactive materials. In fact, release of strontium-90 has grown by a factor of 100 when compared to 2011 levels. In other words, the situation is worsening. One hundred times anything is very big, especially when it is radiation.

Strontium-90 is acutely dangerous, and as it happens, highly radioactive water continuing to spew out of the Fukushima Dai-ichih facilities is seemingly an endless, relentless problem. The mere fact that strontium-90 has increased by a factor of 100 since the disaster occurred is cause for decisive sober reflection. Furthermore, nobody on the face of the planet knows what is happening within the nuclear containment vessels, but apparently, it’s not good. More likely, it’s real bad.

According to Dr. Helen Caldicott:

There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.8

Comparison analysis of Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011)

The world’s three most recent nuclear disasters are dissimilar in many respects. However, all three are subject to the same adage: “an accident is something that is not planned.” Thus, by definition, in the final analysis, the risk factor with nuclear power is indeterminate. Fukushima is proof.

Three Mile Island’s containment vessel, in large measure, fulfilled its purpose by containing most of the radiation so there was minimal radiation released. As such, Three Mile Island is the least harmful of the three incidents.

By way of contrast, Chernobyl did not have an adequate containment vessel and as a result, the explosion sent a gigantic plume of radioactive material blasting into the atmosphere, contaminating a 70 square kilometer (approximately 30 sq. mi.) region, a “dead zone” that is permanently uninhabitable, forever unlivable.

To this day, tens of thousands of people affected by Chernobyl continue to suffer, and die, begging the question of whether Fukushima could be worse. After all, the incubation period for radiation in the body is 5-to-40 years (Caldicott). As, for example, it took 5 years for Chernobyl children to develop cancer (Caldicott), and Fukushima occurred in 2011.

“Fukushima is not Chernobyl, but it is potentially worse. It is a multiple reactor catastrophe happening within 150 miles of a metropolis of 30 million people,” claims John Vidal. Whereas, Chernobyl was only one reactor in an area of 7 million people.

John Vidal, environmental editor, The Guardian newspaper (UK), traveled to Chernobyl:

Five years ago I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; fetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers… Villagers testified that ‘the Chernobyl necklace’ – thyroid cancer – was so common as to be unremarkable.9

There’s more.

Konstantin Tatuyan, one of the ‘liquidators’ who had helped clean up the plant [Chernobyl], told us that nearly all his colleagues had died or had cancers of one sort or another, but that no one had ever asked him for evidence. There was burning resentment at the way the UN, the industry and ill-informed pundits had played down the catastrophe.10

And still more yet:

Alexy Yablokov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and adviser to President Gorbachev at the time of Chernobyl: ‘When you hear no immediate danger [from nuclear radiation] then you should run away as far and as fast as you can’… At the end of 2006, Yablokov and two colleagues, factoring in the worldwide drop in births and increase in cancers seen after the accident, estimated in a study published in the annals of the New York Academy of Sciences that 985,000 people had so far died and the environment had been devastated. Their findings were met with almost complete silence by the World Health Organisation and the industry.11

The environment is devastated and almost one million dead. Is nuclear power worth the risks? Chancellor Merkel doesn’t seem to think so.

Of the three major nuclear disasters, Fukushima has its own uniqueness. The seriousness of the problem is immense, far-reaching, and daunting as its containment vessels are leaking radioactivity every day, every hour, every minute. How to stop it is not known, which is likely the definition of a nuclear meltdown!

The primary containment vessels at Fukushima may have prevented a Chernobyl-type massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere in one enormous explosion. Even though, Fukushima did have four hydrogen explosions in the secondary containment structures, and as previously mentioned, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:

When Fukushima exploded… levels of cesium-137 and 134, two of the most abundant radioactive materials released, peaked at more than 50,000,000 times above background levels.

But, more significant, troublesome, and menacing the primary containment vessels themselves are an afflictive problem of unknown dimension, unknown timing, unknown levels of destruction, as the nuclear meltdown left 100 tons of white-hot radioactive lava somewhere, but where?

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” William Shakespeare The Tempest.

Postscript: Quietly into Disaster is an alluring, exquisite, handsome full-length film that examines the consequences of nuclear fission, Produced by: Holger Strohm, Directed by Marcin El.

HyperPhysics, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Georgia State University [↩]
Stephanie Chao, 283 Mislabeled Japanese Food Products Originated Near Fukushima, The China Post, March 25, 2015. [↩]
“Taiwan Enforces Stricter Controls on Japanese Food Imports”, J.R. Wu in Taipei and Ami Miyazaki in Tokyo, Reuters, May 15, 2015 [↩]
“Japan Asks China to Ease Food Import Restrictions Introduced After Fukushima Nuclear Disaster”, South China Morning Post, June 25, 2015. [↩]
Deborah Dupre, “Radiating Americans: Fukushima rain, Clinton’s Secret Food Pact”, Examiner.com, August 14, 2011 [↩]
Report on the Fukushima Dai-ichih Nuclear Disaster and Radioactivity along the California Coast, California Coastal Commission, April 30, 2014. [↩]
Patrick J. Kiger, “Fukushima Return: At Nuclear Site, How Safe is Safe?” National Geographic, April 2, 2014. [↩]
Helen Caldicott, Speech at Seattle Town Hall, September 28, 2014. [↩]
John Vidal, “Nuclear’s Green Cheerleaders Forget Chernobyl at Our Peril”, The Guardian, April 1, 2011. [↩]
Ibid [↩]
Ibid. [↩]

Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert.

This article was posted on Sunday, June 28th, 2015 at 11:11pm and is filed under China, Environment, Germany, Japan, Nuclear Energy, Oceans/Seas.