fukushima-fearvia Alaska Dispatch / January 22, 2014 / Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I’ve been trying to find Zen with the the ongoing Fukushima nuclear mess. Between colossal tax cuts for oil companies, a budget forecast that induces acid reflux, and Medicaid un-expansion, I barely had the brainspace to worry whether my dad’s smoked sockeye was going to give me colon cancer or turn me into a mutant.

I abandoned my studied indifference when the CBC came out with an alarmingly-titled article in November: “Radiation from Japan nuclear plant arrives on Alaska coast.” I hold plenty of things against Canada, namely their 2010 Olympic men’s and women’s hockey teams, but the CBC, that venerable and trustworthy news institution, is not one of them.

I resolved to learn more. On a trip back east, I passed through D.C. and had the good fortune to sit in on a congressional briefing by Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Buesseler is America’s foremost expert on oceanic radiation; his presentation was equally authoritative.

The crib notes: There’s no reason to move to Nebraska! We’re not all gonna die — or get cancer or become mutants. The water in Japan is iffy but still safe, and the water 5,000 miles away here in Alaska is as pure, pristine, and uncarcinogenic as the mountain streams of Southeast Alaska.

When we talk Fukushima radiation, we’re talking Cesium-137, a radioactive isotope that is (surprise!) extremely bad for you and extremely good at giving you cancer. Cesium-137 is measured by what are called “becquerels” (pronounced “beck-er-ELLS”) per meter cubed (abbreviated Bq/m3). Right now, the water immediately off Japan registers about 2,000 Bq/m3 of Cesium-137.

Consider the following: 50,000,000 Bq/m3 can cause birth defects in marine organisms. 7,400 Bq/m3 is the EPA limit for safe drinking water. There are 12 Bq of naturally occurring radiation in a banana. The natural radioactivity of the ocean is 2 Bq/m3.

The water off Japan (2,000 Bq/m3) is elevated and is hardly a best-case scenario, but it’s not as though it’s going to spawn Godzilla.

But remember! This is radiation measured off Fukushima, Japan. It’s many thousands of miles away from Alaska. I may have voted against the bill weakening cruise ship wastewater standards, but Fukushima radiation is a classic example for which the solution to pollution is in fact dilution.

The vast Pacific Ocean is diluting Cesium-137 radioactivity by nearly 200 percent by the time the Kuroshio Current carries Fukushima water to our side of the Pacific. Water contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant is forecast to arrive on the West Coast, well … right about now. Computer models predict that Fukushima-contaminated water washing up on the West Coast has between 1 Bq/m3 and 30 Bq/m3 of Cesium-137. (Remember, 7,400 Bq/m3 is the EPA limit, and 2 Bq/m3 is the naturally occurring level.) Early data gathered up and down the West Coast corroborates these predictions.

To be clear: there may well be more radiation in a banana (and who doesn’t love bananas?) than off our Alaska coast.

As I said, there’s no reason to move to Nebraska!

But we absolutely need to cautiously monitor the situation. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Fukushima, and the Department of Environmental Conservation should play a visible, proactive leadership role. It has not. Unchecked by fact, fear-mongering Facebook posts that make the entire Pacific Ocean look as though it’s practically boiling with nuclear radiation are stirring up paranoia.

SOURCE: Alaska Dispatch

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By Broc West| 16 Comments | Editorials, News


  1. Well let’s find out what’s melting the starfish and other apparently coincidental strange sea life fire offs and illnesses.

  2. Die offs. Not fire offs.

  3. Let us hear what you have to say three years from now. I think you will change your tune….

  4. (AGAIN): if the “solution to pollution is dilution” it may well stand up IF the pollution stops…. radiation contamination does not stop; Fukushima has not stopped. What do you have to say about that?
    Pretending (and that’s what your commentary is, “pretence”), that everything is “Not as bad as it seems”….. and/or that “it will all be OK”, is just a psychological bandaid. Quite frankly, I’m happy for you… Dream on!…. and enjoy your dream while it lasts…… but the nightmare reality is not going to be “washed away”.

  5. Nuclear bomb testing in the 60s made the water far more radioactive the fukushima.

    • Niall,
      Yes, and looking at the tests that were performed, all 2000+ of them, why did the starfish not melt in the 1960s?
      Just a thought, maybe there is something else killing marine life, since we started seeing it in earnest 11 years before Fukushima had its meltdowns?

      If you were following the mass die-offs like my wife and I have been since around 1998, you would not be wrongly pointing them to Fukushima.

      I would like some of the other commenters to explain why the whole planet has been experiencing unusually high amounts of die-offs before Fukushima ever happened, AND a long time AFTER all the nuke detonations.

      We must look at other causes, because if you use any form of common sense you know it isn’t Fukushima that is doing things like killing starfish. That would be nonsense.

      • to say that it is nonsense that fukushima is not causing any harm in the pacific is just nonsense in its self.

        YES there are MANY contributing factors as to why this earth is dying and we have unprecedented ‘die offs’ of animals and plant life, reasons like pollution! chemtrails, poison in agriculture, pesticides/insecticides etc etc. of course a planet with 7 billion people will cause quite a bit of damage to the environment, but to downplay Fukushima amongst all of this is either ignorant or just plain misleading!

        NEVER before in the history of man has ANYONE ever had to deal with a situation like fukushima. they don’t even have a SOLUTION and this problem is now in its 1050 something day! 3 reactors in complete meltdown in that time… talk of china syndrome and critical mass meltdown in the reactors and people like you and the writers of many such articles just mislead and hide the truth from people in order to not to cause ‘panic’ or whatever ulterior motive you may have.

        in my opinion Fukushima is a BIG problem that the Japanese Government desperately needs help with the resolution of this issue. the News and mainstream media hide the truth instead of reporting on it… websites like this one and deep sea news try to paint a false picture of the reality that is.

        Is Fukushima responsible for all the recent die off’s in the pacific ocean or marine/animal life in the northern hemisphere? PROBABLY NOT… is it a contributing factor?…HELL YES! how can it not be?

  6. So says the 24yr old member of the Alaska House of Representatives! What else would you expect him to say?! Get your facts straight kid. You have no concept of the magnitude of this disaster and the dangers yet to come.

  7. One thing the writer fails to consider, when the Government that is in place to protect and serve the people removes safeguards designed for that very purpose (Air, Water and Atmospheric Radiation Monitoring along with Media Blackouts on Fukushima subjects) you need only look to Russians incident to see the same exact pattern and the outcome which is well know not just in Russian but all across the globe.

    So, if this person wishes to stick his head in the sand or up his glutimus maximus (as he is telling others to do) that is his opinion, but myself, I will rely on facts and a bit of common sense and will very likely be here long after you.

    This article is what I would call nothing more than Internet blather with no basis in fact.

  8. Forgive my ignorance but ,

    Didn’t the EPA raise the “safe” levels recently? (yes they did)
    Somehow a Banana still feel’s safer, oh yes because that is a logical fallacy (false equivalence)
    Isn’t Cesium-137 Accumulative in effect? (yes, and the half-life is ridiculously long)
    Could this accumulative effect possibly be the cause of what we are seeing in the pacific ocean, in regards to the massive sea life death? (pacific ocean underwater nuclear testing started before Fukushima)
    Could the sea life die off be from possible underwater biological weapons testing? (now, that is just as scary)

  9. I’d like to know where these test results are coming from when talking about numbers around Japanese waters. If the so called experts are using information provided by the Japanese government or Tepco, how is it possible that educated individuals such as the author of this less than informative article can allow themselves to believe what they read from sources who have already been proven liars not to mention changed the rue of law in their country to avoid the truth from being heard. Give your heads a shake boys. What all the naysayers keep missing is the ..what if scenario..all your predictions on the safety of the ocean and environment is general is as speculative as those who believe that mankind is on the verge of catastrophe. Even David Suzuki who retracted his earlier warnings won’t retract on the ..what if scenario. I hope for your sakes as well as ours that the what id doesn’t happen..where will all your theoretical facts be then ? You wil be the first ones moving to Nebraska to save your sorry asses and I seriously doubt you’d be sticking around long enough to write an apology for your ignorance to the facts. Three melt downs..THREE with the very real threat of more. Assholes is all I can say.

    • Sigh… One More Time!
      Lincoln Nebraska
      CPM: current 232 Low 169 High 363

      When this site in Nebraska is at it’s lowest, our west coast site which sticks way out in the pacific, stays at 34 CPM, about 1/5 the radioactivity of Lincoln Nebraska.

      When Lincoln is at it’s highest, we here in California are seeing less than 1/10 the radiation you are in Lincoln…

      To be fair most cities in the US are high, west coast too, but the environment is quite low.
      People who comment without doing research are hurting the environmental causes, like abolishing nuclear power, coal power and addiction to gasoline and diesel.
      You make us all look ignorant.

      I invite any of you to post YOUR radiation measurements taken on the east Pacific ocean coastline. How do you KNOW that it is Fukushima’s radiation that is killing starfish on the Pacific coast, Atlantic Coast, Spain and many other places globally?

      Prove to me in hard scientific terms that it is Fukushima that is killing life in the oceans!
      Prove to me that the rampant spraying of Corexit didn’t do it!
      Prove to me that the US military’s spraying of the heavy metal cadmium off the Pacific coast didn’t do it!

      You have a lot of research to do, and time spent espousing uneducated opinion only makes your available time less productive.

      How many of you here actually do radiation sampling?
      Just sayin 🙂

  10. I think this would fall under the term BANANA NEWS 🙂 eat up & throw away

  11. Fact David Suzuki did not deny his statement – he retracted it
    Fact tons of radioactive waste is poring into the ocean every day
    Fact When radioactive spewed into the air, they tried to hide it under tents, which is now in the troposphere.
    Fact TEPCO is lying about how many RADS a human can acquire
    Fact If this is an E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) it will cause mass panic,riots, etc. The gov’t won’t tell you until it is too late-they need all of us Guinee pigs to keep society going till it’s too late.
    Fact The China Syndrome times 3 can is happening-it’s just a matter of time . Good luck all

  12. 2000 bg/m3 is incorrect. The water directly off the coast of Fukushima is much, much higher. Try fukushima-diary.com. This guy seems to be the only honest contributor regarding the ongoing disaster.

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