Japan’s Radiation and Trusting the Experts

Japan’s radiation problem keeps getting worse.  Radioactive Iodine and Cesium and pouring into the Pacific Ocean, and while experts are trying to be reassuring they are going about it in a decidedly worrying fashion.

Take this AP Article for instance:

Very close to the nuclear plant — less than half a mile or so — sea creatures might be in danger of problems like genetic mutations if the dumping goes on a long time, he said. But there shouldn’t be any serious hazard farther away “unless this escalates into something much, much larger than it has so far,” he said.

No fishing is allowed in the vicinity of the complex.

And yet:

He agreed that animals near the plant may be affected. It’s not clear in what way, because the level of radiation isn’t well known, he said. In any case, fish would probably escape such an effect because unlike immobile species such as oysters, they move around and so would not get a continuous exposure, he said.

How can they say the fish nearby will be protected “because they move” and then only prohibit fishing in the area affected?  If the fish are safe, why prohibit fishing at all?  If not, why limit it to the area around the plant (rather than institute radiation testing).  Actually, that is just what they are planning on doing next.  Setting radiation safety levels for seafood:

Experts agree that radiation dissipates quickly in the vast Pacific

And yet:

He added that seawater may be diluting the iodine, which decays quickly, but the leak also contains long-lasting cesium-137, which can build up in fish over time. Both can build up in fish, though iodine’s short half-life means it does not stay there for very long. The long-term effects of cesium, however, will need to be studied, he said.

They really have no idea what the long term effects of this will be.  They don’t know the range of impact either: Fish Migrate.

Meanwhile their plans involve trying desperately to find the leak, and making increasingly desperate and risky decisions:

The government on Monday gave the go-ahead to pump more than 3 million gallons of less-contaminated water into the sea — in addition to what is leaking — to make room at a plant storage facility to contain more highly radioactive water.

What happens when that storage facility fills up again?  Given the constantly shifting truths about just what is leaking, and what its long term impact might be – how do we know what to believe?

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3 Responses

  1. Can you believe this? I don’t know much about radiation contamination. I know it’s a heavy element so I wonder will “heavy water” or radioactive particles settle on the ocean floor. I mean if the bottom feeders are exposed, the whole area is screwed.

    I read the Japanese government is upping the acceptable radiation levels, too. My gut reaction is how stupid do they think people are, but the Japanese are much politer than me.

    • I can, we’ve got a world wide culture of corporate malfeasance and legal invulnerability. I fully expect Tepco to get away with this, and for the industry at large to keep on keeping on. How many power plants in the US will actually see upgrades, I wonder?

      • I just never have enough skepticism recruited to comprehend the malevolence. But I think you’re right.

        NOAA is bending over backwards to make sure the recent baby dolphin deaths on the Gulf Coast are not blamed on BP. The “scientists” make it fuzzy; so, in court…every business who sues BP for killing their business will be told, (thanks to NOAA) “Just because the dolphins were covered in oil doesn’t mean oil killed them. Your customers had nothing to fear from the water in 2011 according to water tests.”

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