While all eyes are on Syria, there is some news from Japan that caught my eye.
Readers may recall that the Fukushima nuclear power plant had a series of equipment failures and nuclear meltdowns in the wake of a devastating tsunami in 2011. There as been a recent update in the situation status:
Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale, and it castigated the plant operator for failing to catch the problem earlier.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s latest criticism of Tokyo Electric Power Co. came a day after the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant acknowledged that the 272-tonne (300-ton, 300,000-litre, 80,000-gallon) leak probably began nearly a month and a half before it was discovered Aug. 19.
Meanwhile, new scare stories are now circulating in various social media as a result of this level increase, saying there is “no safe level of radiation” and falsely presenting a tsunami-wave-projection graphic as an image of spreading radiation levels.
Furthermore, there are wild claims being made, such as “the days of eating Pacific fish are over.”
As a fish lover who boogie boards along the California coast, I have a personal interest in the realities. And it looks like a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii has some good news:
There’s virtually no risk of getting fatal cancer from Pacific bluefin tuna exposed to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study found that the additional risk is one death per 5 million subsistence fishermen, who eat fish as a dietary staple. For consumers, the risk would be even lower. The complete text can be found by clicking on this link.
In terms of “no safe level of radiation”, Dr. Martin P. Fricke, nuclear physicist and Fellow of the American Physical Society, offers this perspective:
The Before It’s News article states that “there is no safe level of radiation”. While that is formally true, whether or not a threat is posed depends directly on how much ionizing radiation is present relative to the natural background level. Everyday existence on Earth results in exposure to natural ionizing radiation from cosmic rays and from the elements the Earth is made of.
The strength of the source radiation from Fukushima and its dilution by spreading through the Pacific determines whether the hazard adds significantly to normal levels. Similarly, its effect on humans and the biological components of the food chain must be evaluated relative to a normal baseline. None of this critical information is present in the article. I agree with a recent Forbes article that concludes, “You can worry about it [Fukushima] if you want but it’s not something that’s likely to have any real measurable effect on anyone or anything.”
So, it looks like science-based facts counter scary an eco-activist meme, once again.