What are officials hiding about Fukushima?

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, Soviet officials were vilified for hiding the impacts from the public.

But when Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident took place last March, public officials in Japan and Canada alike jumped straight into Chernobyl-style damage-control mode, dismissing any worries about impacts.

Now evidence has emerged that the radiation in Canada was worse than Canadian officials ever let on.

A Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected radioactive material in rainwater that exceeded Canadian guidelines during the month of March, according to Health Canada data obtained by the Georgia Straight.

Canadian government officials didn’t disclose the high radiation readings to the public. Instead, they repeatedly insisted that fallout drifting to Canada was negligible and posed no health concerns.

In fact, the data shows rainwater in Calgary last March had an average of 8.18 becquerels per litre of radioactive iodine, easily exceeding the Canadian guideline of six becquerels per litre for drinking water.

“It’s above the recommended level [for drinking water],” Eric Pellerin, chief of Health Canada’s radiation-surveillance division, admitted in a phone interview from Ottawa. “At any time you sample it, it should not exceed the guideline.”

Radioactive-iodine levels also spiked in March in Vancouver (which saw an average of 0.69 becquerels per litre), Winnipeg (which saw 0.64 becquerels per litre) and Ottawa (which saw 1.67 becquerels per litre), the data shows.

These levels didn’t exceed the Canadian guidelines, but the level discovered in Ottawa did surpass the more stringent ceiling for drinking water used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is 54 times less than the six becquerels per litre of iodine-131 (a radioactive isotope) allowed in this country.

Health Canada provided the data only after repeated requests from the Straight. It isn’t posted on Health Canada’s web page devoted to the impacts of Fukushima.

Instead, Health Canada maintains on that page that the radioactive fallout from Fukushima was “smaller than the normal day to day fluctuations from background radiation” and “did not pose any health risk to Canadians”.

Pellerin said he doesn’t know why Health Canada didn’t make the data public. “I can’t answer that. The communication aspect could be improved,” he said.

In a statement emailed to the Straight along with the data, Health Canada played down the radiation in the Calgary rainwater: “Since rainwater is typically not a primary source of drinking water, and the concentration measured was very low (8 Bq/L), this measurement is not considered a health risk.”

Health Canada’s rainwater data reveals deficiencies in how Ottawa monitors radiation in terms of public safety. Even at the height of the Fukushima crisis, rainwater in Canada was tested for radiation only at the end of each month, after a network of monitoring stations sent samples to Ottawa.

As a result, the spikes in radiation last March were only discovered in early April, after rainwater samples were sent to Ottawa for testing.

It’s also impossible to know how high radiation got on specific days in March because each day’s rainwater was added to the previous samples for that month.

In contrast, the EPA tested rainwater for radiation every day and reported the data daily on its website.

Health Canada’s data on rainwater is also puzzling for another reason. It sharply contrasts with the data collected by SFU associate professor of chemistry Krzysztof Starosta. He found iodine-131 levels in rainwater in Burnaby spiked to 13 becquerels per litre in the days after Fukushima. That’s many times higher than the levels detected in Vancouver by Health Canada.

Comments (40) Add New Comment
OldGeek
Thanks for the update. I guess the only question now is, Just how badly did west-coast Canadians fare during the radiation peak? The coming decades will show us. Any health information regarding what one can do to minimize any radiation damage? Foods to eat and avoid? Dietary changes? What can Canada do to move away from nuclear energy, at least in its currently engineered form? Are there any tight estimates about how many hundreds of kilos of radioactives got vapourized into the air in Japan, and global distribution patterns? Where do I buy a ticket to Mars?
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Vivre
It's nice to read

'Japan, Germany, and Switzerland have announced they’ll phase out nuclear power.'

but I think you meant ITALY instead of Japan.

still - thanks for this extensive report
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Vivianne Brault
Why am I not suprised by this ???
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Jeff Barkley
I have been trying to get people to pay attention to this since it happened. Most don't believe it because the MSM don't talk about it. How high are levels of radiation on our roofs? How high are levels near drains? How high are levels in our milk (the cows eat the grass that is covered in rainwater)?

All we get is fascism. Nuclear corporations have "lobbied" our governments to keep quiet. They don't care about the health of our children, all they care about is making more money on nuclear power. Nuclear power is NOT safe and its NOT clean. The whole industry does nothing but lie about the dangers.

How many people realize that TEPCO has not even tried to put more concrete below the meltdowns, as was done at Chernobyl, to prevent the molten fuel from reaching groundwater? They explained it in a Japanese newspaper as something that they were not doing because "it would impact their share value".

One of the things the Occupy movement has to do is stop all construction of all nuclear plants and make sure the old ones are shut down. Even if that is done, it will be a huge job trying to store the existing radioactive waste for thousands of years without killing everyone on the planet.

Soon we will not be able to eat ANYTHING from the oceans. Our farmland is getting fallout every time it rains. Meanwhile our paid off, corrupt, fascist governments do nothing but cover for the corporations....
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Ray Masalas
Where do I start? Alex, I'm glad someone is talking fallout here, but you're really underplaying how much our government is lying. What about Toronto hitting 20,000 CPM in July? What about milk in San Francisco hitting 2400% above the limit or Philadelphia rain water at 3300% above the limit? How about Health Canada refusing to test farmers soil in Newfoundland? Vancouver had an infant mortality spike too. The coroner blamed the parents. Anybody seen Autopsy results? You seem to be under the impression that we're getting less radiation now. These 3 china syndromes are steaming away 24/7 and 75% blows east. It's been detected in Iceland and Scotland for those who think this is only hitting the west coast. We are over 215 days of constant release. Chernobyl was sealed in 18 days. Chernobyl had 160 tons of fuel, no Mox fuel. 50 tons went up. Fukushima has 3700 tons of fuel + MOX. No one will say how much went up in the 4 explosions. All the worlds radiation plume models have been turned off. Why do you think that is? After reading 4000 pages of info on the greatest disaster in world history, I can safely tell you it's at least 10 times as bad as you think. Probably more. People in Oshawa wouldn't be happy with 2 more reactors if they knew how much they were getting from Japan. Chalk River had a meltdow in 1952 and another in 1958. Both were dumped in the Ottawa River The Ottawa valley has the highest cancer rate in Canada and 4X normal background. Chalk River has also been leaking into the Ottawa river since the 60's, yet they just extended the licence of the oldest nuke plant on earth, even though it had a 3.2 earthquake right under the plant this summer. We're in big trouble folks, and our government is maximizing the damage by withholding info, so they can keep selling Uranium and building multi billion dollar mega-projects for there buddies. Stay out of the rain, gang and start thinking about a small greenhouse in your backyard. We are on our own and blind, thanks to our government and media. {Present company excluded}.
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sleepswithangels
When I saw the header I thought this article was going to cover the convincing theories of engineers like Jim Stone:

http://theinfounderground.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&p=61666

http://www.jimstonefreelance.com/fukushima.html

http://kyotoobserver.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/jim-stone-dimona-to-fukush...
SMBs
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seth
There is no limit to silly junk science based antinuclear campaign at the Straight.

" He found iodine-131 levels in rainwater in Burnaby spiked to 13 becquerels per litre in the days after Fukushima. That’s many times higher than the levels detected in Vancouver by Health Canada "

Gee I know nobody is likely to be drinking a litre of rain water in Burnaby but, didy'all know that a banana measures out at 15 becquerels.

Didy'all know that an individual standing at the front gates at Fukushima would get far less radiation exposure than the average citizen gets in low cancer rate Ramsar Iran.

The low information antinuke types who seem to own the editorial board here at the Straight should for once actually read one of their own articles

http://www.straight.com/article-492211/vancouver/big-chill-ocean-warming...

Then wonder if their silly opposition to a fossil to nuke conversion is worth the pollution deaths of three million folks worldwide every year the conversion is delayed and the deaths of billions more when we hit the fast approaching climate precipice.

With a fossil to nuclear conversion over ten years well within our idle industrial capacity, rates of return of 40% per annum to the nation as a whole, and a fossil to renewable conversion utterly impossible financially, industrially, and politically, it is Big Oil funded mainstream media and low information types like those at the Straight that are leading us to disaster.
seth
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Salty one
What about Canadian stocks of fish that migrate back and forth through Japanese waters that are impacted by the nuclear disaster?
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Steven Kaasgaard
At last somebody here in the North American press (local) grows a pair and breaks the silence on this gigantic cover up of the environmental story of the century. Even that wannabee 'Green' Elizabeth May has been surprisingly silent on this one?!

Thank you! thank you! thank you! Georgia Straight of Vancouver!

Steven Kaasgaard

WildGreens, Canada
***

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Pat
Maybe Harper will get the CBC to do another one of their "it's just a conspiracy theory (and the people who believe it are insane)" documentaries.
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Crista
I am really happy to see Fukushima fall out finally make it back into print! There is something really unusual about the way the issue of contamination from Fukushima has just vanished from the media. What exactly is going on here? Logically, given the amount of radiation that escaped during the disaster, its impossible to imagine that we haven't been effected. Yet the government isn't measuring soil, water, food.... I smell a conspiracy between the government and the corporations involved in extracting and selling uranium and corporations selling power plants.

If the Georgia Straight can get its hands on any information regarding contamination levels, please publish it!
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Crista
When I read the above comments I noticed some people wanted more information. Here's a blog you can check out.

http://changeagents2011.wordpress.com/get-involved/
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CanuckGeek
Fantastic reporting. Thanks. The media has been far too quiet on this issue. The Canadian government is doing all it can to downplay this ongoing disaster, rather than mitigate its effects. We now have to be very careful about internal contamination through food and beverages. As you pointed out, imported and Canadian food is not being screened before it ends up on our shelves. We have to protect ourselves by making educated buying decisions.
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ec
Thanks for the article. The indifference over the dangers of nuclear energy is troubling and the ones who aren't concerned are troubling, too.

At least the two most advanced countries with the smartest people (Germany and Japan) aren't fooling themselves any more and are getting out of the nuclear business.

Too bad, our economist simpleton Prime Minister doesn't get it and is busy promoting uranium mining: good business opportunity if you are simple with simple thoughts. Depressing when you think about it.
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Rita
I take the SFU Professors readings as accurate. I went through the same denial and then acknowledgment of real numbers in Scandinavia/Europe after Chernobyl disaster. The rainwater from Chernobyl is still flushing down the rivers into Black Sea and Eastern Med most likely. I'm glad Germans are getting rid of nuclear power. Smart choice! Plus 50% of Spain's electric power comes from green sources such as solar and wind.
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Borrob
Good source on the net enenews.com and fairewinds associates with Arnie Gunderson
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1984
canada, nation EXPORTING DISASTER FOR MONEY?
http://www.ccnr.org/exports_3.html
CANDUs for India that was later used to explode nuclear A.BOMB by india.
Canada exports disaster for money? Japan MOX and Canada link is worth exploring!
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John Turmel
"public officials in Japan and Canada alike jumped straight into Chernobyl-style damage-control mode, dismissing any worries about impacts. Now evidence has emerged that the radiation in Canada was worse than Canadian officials ever let on.
Jct: While I was warning Canadians to take cover in my run for Prime Minister, Stephen Harper was lying about the danger during his run for Prime Minister. Har har har. All those people who didn't listen to me were contaminated and are going to die sooner. Har har har. That'll teach them not to listen when an engineer tells them to take cover!

"A Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected radioactive material in rainwater that exceeded Canadian guidelines during the month of March, according to Health Canada data obtained by the Georgia Straight. Canadian government officials didn’t disclose the high radiation readings to the public. Instead, they repeatedly insisted that fallout drifting to Canada was negligible and posed no health concerns... Pellerin said he doesn’t know why Health Canada didn’t make the data public. “I can’t answer that. The communication aspect could be improved,” he said.
Jct: Stephen Harper didn't make the data public. All those upcoming deaths on his hands! Har har har. Sure, nobody cares about how many Libyans Harper has killed but they will get upset when they realize it's themselves he's helped kill.
"Health Canada’s rainwater data reveals deficiencies in how Ottawa monitors radiation in terms of public safety. Even at the height of the Fukushima crisis, rainwater in Canada was tested for radiation only at the end of each month, after a network of monitoring stations sent samples to Ottawa. As a result, the spikes in radiation last March were only discovered in early April, after rainwater samples were sent to Ottawa for testing."
Jct: Remember, Harper shut down their radiation monitors on Mar 25 so they wouldn't be able to find out and warn peole until April about being contaminated!
"It’s also impossible to know how high radiation got on specific days in March because each day’s rainwater was added to the previous samples for that month. In contrast, the EPA tested rainwater for radiation every day and reported the data daily on its website. Health Canada’s data on rainwater is also puzzling for another reason. It sharply contrasts with the data collected by SFU associate professor of chemistry Krzysztof Starosta. He found iodine-131 levels in rainwater in Burnaby spiked to 13 becquerels per litre in the days after Fukushima. That’s many times higher than the levels detected in Vancouver by Health Canada."
Jct: And Harper Hellions misled us about it too. KingofthePaupers
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Level3
I work for a federal government food monitoring agency that monitors food grown in Canada. I can tell you that I brought up the issue of radiation getting into our food (through rainwater) with my manager soon after Fukushima and received nothing but silence.
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rae
.559 uSv/hr...67 counts/min...clark and venibles Vancouver BC oct 21 2011...under cover from rain. Normally used to read .09 uSv/hr three months ago. Average about .20-.29 uSv/hr to .314-.354 uSv/hr for the last month. Best of luck guys. And Alta was worse than here .....by a factors of three. RAE
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