Category Archives: Radiation

Nowhere to live? Nothing to eat?

“Out of work?  Nowhere to live?  Nowhere to go?  Nothing to eat? “

The above was found in the text of an article on the front page of The New York Times March 17, 2014.  The quote above was made to reference an online ad that continues, “Come to Fukushima.”  The title of the article is “Fukushima Cleaned Up by Poor and Unskilled”.

The article goes on to say that TEPCO hires contractors to carry out the hiring for the Fukushima plant.  It indicated that the contractors exploit the “destitute” “willing to carry out the hazardous decommissioning at the site.”  The article continues, “Regulators, contractors and more than 20 current and former workers interviewed in recent months say that the deteriorating labor conditions are a prime cause of a string of large leaks of contaminated water and other embarrassing errors that have already damaged the environment and, in some cases, put workers in danger.  In the worst-case scenario, experts fear, struggling workers could trigger a bigger spill or another radiological release.”

This blog was not started to write about nuclear threats to the environment and us, however, the potential negative health aspects from radioactive exposure could be severe and widespread and should not be ignored.  If you recall, the TEPCO Fukushima power plant was struck by an earthquake and tsunami that caused three reactors to meltdown in March of 2011.  As I discussed earlier in the posts, ‘Should we worry about Fukushima?’ and ‘Fukushima water to hit US west coast?’, radioactive ocean water could reach the west coast as late as this summer.

While the World Health Organization acknowledges cancer rates will probably increase in Japan as a result of the meltdown, we still cannot understand to what extent long term leaking of radioactive water into the ocean will have on our health and planet.  For now, we need to understand the perspective of people like Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  Buesseler has been following the effects of the meltdown since the beginning and concedes more research is needed.

What has become increasingly clear, is how TEPCO operates.  It is headlines such as the New York Times article quoted above that do not give me much confidence in the decommissioning process managed by TEPCO.  Some have called for an international involvement of specialists from all over the world as an answer to the problem.

Some monitoring of ocean water is being done in California and Oregon.  Washington State is not currently monitoring ocean water at all.  This is interesting as the initial radioactive water from Fukushima is expected to reach the Washington coast as late as this summer and as early as this April.

I think it is good that people educate themselves on this topic.  We can follow the monitoring that is already being done in Oregon and California and keep track of the work being done by Ken Buesseler.  He is currently involved in crowd sourcing to fund monitoring sites along the Pacific coast by volunteers.  His project is called – “How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?”.

Yours in Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

 

Fukushima radioactive water to hit US west coast?

This is a follow-up to the post, Should we worry about Fukushima?

 

There has been concern over the far-reaching and long-term effects of radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean since a tsunami and earthquake struck Japan in March 2011.  The two disasters combined, caused  a meltdown of 3 nuclear reactors at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plant.  As I stated in my post, there needs to be more research to understand the effects of the meltdown.

In a resent article from USA Today it was indicated that Ken Buesseler stated, “I’m not trying to be an alarmist.”, “We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it’s safe?”

Ken Bruesseler is a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has been following and monitoring Pacific Ocean radiation levels since Fukishima’s meltdown. He originally predicted the radiation in the ocean would hit the US west coast in three years.

The USA Today article made reference to a new report by stating that a “report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium 134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.” Then the article goes on to say that Cesium 134 has a half-life of 2 years.

I recall that the concern over the contaminated run off was the isotopes Cesium 137 and Strontium 90.  Cesium 137 is known to cause cancer and has a half-life of 30 years. Strontium 90 is linked to bone cancer and leukemia and has a half-life of 28.8 years.

As reported in the USA Today article, “no federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation,” Bruesseler said.  He and other scientists want more research.

California and Oregon currently does some testing for radioactive isotopes in the Pacific.  Currently the testing in both states revealed minimal detectable activity.

As the contaminated water is suspected to reach Seattle as late as this summer, and travel south, it will be interesting to see how the levels change as the run off water from TEPCO reaches the US coast.

Meanwhile Bruesseler is using crowd-sourced money and volunteers to monitor radioactivity within the ocean along the Pacific coast. His project is titled – “How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?”.

Yours in Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

Source:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/09/scientists-test-west-coast-for-fukushima-radiation/6213849/

Should we worry about Fukushima?

CNN reported on February 20, 2014, “The leak of an estimated 100 metric tons of highly contaminated water was discovered late Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said in a statement”(1).   A BBC report indicated, “the water from Wednesday’s leak was radioactive, with a reading of 230 million becquerels per litre of radioactive isotopes”(2).   The report goes on to say that the World Health Organization “advises against drinking water with radioactivity levels higher than 10 becquerels per litre”(2).

CNN indicated that TEPCO reported the contaminated water did not go into the Pacific Ocean.   Indeed, there has been much concern over the far-reaching and long term affects of radiation in the Ocean since the meltdown of 3 reactors caused by an earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March of 2011.

In 2013 RT published an article on August 7th that stated “For the past two years, TEPCO has claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially-constructed storage tanks.  However, the company was forced to admit late last month that radioactive water was still escaping into the Pacific Ocean”(4).  In the same article when referencing the amount of contaminated water leaking into the ocean, Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates TEPCO was quoted as saying, “We think that the volume of water is about 300 tons a day”(4).   The RT article reported that TEPCO confirmed the leak but would not reveal the extent.

So, what progress has TEPCO made since the August 2013 article.

Apparently the contaminated ground water is still leaking into the ocean at a considerable rate.  An article written by The Guardian December 3, 2013 indicated, “TEPCO estimates that around 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater still flow into the Pacific each day”(5).

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has been following and monitoring Pacific Ocean radiation levels since Fukishima’s meltdown.  He believes the initial release of radiation following the meltdown will reach the US west coast in three years.

It is good to note, that in addition to the ongoing contaminated water leaking into the Pacific, there was an initial amount of radiation released into the ocean following the Fukushima meltdown.  As an article written August 7, 2013 by National Geographic explains “the level of radioactive contamination that the plant was spewing in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, estimated to be from 5,000 to 15,000 terabecquerels, according to Buesseler.  For a comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima released 89 terabecquerels of cesium-137 when it exploded”(7).

The World Health Organization acknowledges that while the cancer rates in Japan will probably increase as a result of radiation released from the Fukishima meltdown, it is unclear as to what extent long-term exposure of contaminated water leaking into the ocean will cause.

The National Geographic article goes on to say, “As Buesseler’s research has shown, tests of local fish in the Fukushima area still show high enough levels of radiation that the Japanese government won’t allow them to be caught and sold for human consumption”(7).

While reviewing the literature on radiation from Fukushima, it appears the main concerns are cesium and strontium 90(Sr-90).   Exposure to cesium 137 increases cancer risk.  Internal exposure to Sr-90 is linked to bone cancer, cancer of the soft tissue near the bone, and leukemia(9).  The National Geographic article references Buelleler as saying “Cesium is like salt—it goes in and out of your body quickly,” he explains.  “Strontium gets into your bones.”

The fact that Strontium goes into the bones means it bio-accumulates.  This means, that as fish are eaten by bigger fish, strontium 90 will accumulate in ocean life.   As people eat the fish it could end up in us as well.

It seems, that as the contaminated water leaches through the soil at Fukushima into the ocean, cesium is filtered by the soil.   Strontium is not.   This means, that as the contaminated water reaches the ocean, more bioaccumulation in organisms, including humans could occur.

Are we seeing the early results of Fukushima as millions of star fish literally melt and break apart on the US west coast from Alaska to California?

Are we seeing the effects on seals as they turn up dead, sick, with open wounds, internal ulcers, and hair-loss?

Are we seeing the effects as recent observations show the considerable decrease in salmon populations returning to spawn?

Are we seeing the effects on herring as they are found bleeding from their eyes and other various parts in fisherman nets and on beaches?

In addition to these relatively recent events, A November 22, 2013 National Geographic article referenced a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which indicated, “In March 2012, less than one percent of the seafloor beneath Station M was covered in dead sea salps.   By July 1, more than 98 percent of the bottom of the ocean was covered by decomposing organisms”(11).

Are these recent events coincidence? It is hard to say.

I am aware that both long and short term effects have been quickly minimized by some, and that the anomalies in the ocean have been written off as non-coincidental with respect to Fukushima.   What I do not understand is how some believe they can be certain of the effects it will have on the present and future, with little research on the issue.   I believe that more research is needed before we dismiss the consequences that this may have on the delicate balance of our ecosystem, and our own well-being, not only the local, but global.

Yours in Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

 

 

 

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/19/world/asia/japan-fukushima-daiichi-water-leak/index.html
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26254140
  3. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/japans-nuclear-regulator-raps-fukushima-operator-over-radiation-readings/
  4. http://rt.com/news/japan-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-164/
  5. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/03/fukushima-daiichi-tsunami-nuclear-cleanup-japan
  6. http://www.whoi.edu/profile/kbuesseler/
  7. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/08/130807-fukushima-radioactive-water-leak/
  8. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/cesium.html
  9. http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/strontium.html
  10. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/fukushima-radiation-something-else-causing-mass-die-wildlife-pacific-ocean.html
  11. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/22/sea-snot-explosions-feed-deep-sea-creatures/