David Suzuki: Citizen scientists can fill info gaps about Fukushima effects

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      An Internet search turns up an astounding number of pages about radiation from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown that followed an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. But it’s difficult to find credible information.

      One reason is that government monitoring of radiation and its effects on fish stocks appears to be limited. According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “No U.S. government or international agency is monitoring the spread of low levels of radiation from Fukushima along the West Coast of North America and around the Hawaiian Islands.”

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s most recent food testing, which includes seafood, appears to be from June 2012. Its website states, “FDA has no evidence that radionuclides from the Fukushima incident are present in the U.S. food supply at levels that would pose a public health concern. This is true for both FDA-regulated food products imported from Japan and U.S. domestic food products, including seafood caught off the coast of the United States.”

      The non-profit Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation has been monitoring Pacific troll-caught albacore tuna off the B.C. coast. Its 2013 sampling found “no residues detected at the lowest detection limits achievable.” The B.C. Centre for Disease Control website assures us we have little cause for concern about radiation from Japan in our food and environment. Websites for Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency yield scant information.

      But the disaster isn’t over. Despite the Japanese government’s claim that everything is under control, concerns have been raised about the delicate process of removing more than 1,500 nuclear fuel rod sets, each containing 60 to 80 fuel rods with a total of about 400 tonnes of uranium, from Reactor 4 to a safer location, which is expected to take a year. Some, including me, have speculated another major earthquake could spark a new disaster. And Reactors 1, 2, and 3 still have tonnes of molten radioactive fuel that must be cooled with a constant flow of water.

      A radioactive plume is expected to reach the West Coast sometime this year, but experts say it will be diluted by currents off Japan’s east coast and, according to the Live Science website, “the majority of the cesium-137 will remain in the North Pacific gyre—a region of ocean that circulates slowly clockwise and has trapped debris in its center to form the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’—and continue to be diluted for approximately a decade following the initial Fukushima release in 2011.”

      With the lack of data from government, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is asking the public for help. In January, Ken Buesseler, senior scientist and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity at the U.S.-based non-profit, launched a fundraising campaign and citizen science website to collect and analyze seawater along North America’s West Coast.

      “Whether you agree with predictions that levels of radiation along the Pacific Coast of North America will be too low to be of human health concern or to impact fisheries and marine life, we can all agree that radiation should be monitored, and we are asking for your help to make that happen,” Buesseler said in a news release.

      Participants can help fund and propose new sites for seawater sampling, and collect seawater to ship to the lab for analysis. The David Suzuki Foundation is the point group for two sampling sites, on Haida Gwaii and at Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Data will be published at How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?, and will include an evolving map showing cesium concentrations with links to information about radioactivity in the ocean and what the levels mean.

      The oceans contain naturally occurring radioactive isotopes and radiation from 1960s nuclear testing. Buesseler doesn’t think levels in the ocean or seafood will become dangerously high because of the Fukushima disaster, but he stresses the importance of monitoring.                                                     

      The Fukushima disaster was a wake-up call for the potential dangers of nuclear power plants, especially in unstable areas. North Americans may have little cause for concern for now, but without good scientific information to determine whether or not it is affecting our food and environment we can’t know for sure. The Woods Hole initiative is a good start.



      p lg

      Jan 29, 2014 at 12:17am

      Despite this information from the Suzuki Foundation folks will continue to spread unsubstantiated claims about everything from the coffee from Hawaii is radioactive to the water we drink has been tainted by the Fukishima nuke plant.

      Even if you provide good science they won't believe you.

      I invite all those theorists to count up all the above and below ground nuclear tests and the associated radiation fallout conducted by all the permanent UN Security Council member nations (US, UK, Soviet Union-Russia, China and France as well as India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel as well as all the below atmospheric, underground and ocean testing from 1945-1996 and compare the radiation released from these weapon tests to Fukishima. Let's put things into perspective eh!

      Hiroshi Suzuki

      Jan 29, 2014 at 10:50am

      Japan to freeze the ground at Fukushima to prevent contaminated water leakage
      January 22, 2014 Voice of Russia
      At the moment, the radiation level at the Fukushima plant and in the Fukushima plant`s neighborhood breaks all the records. In fact it’s so high that can kill a person over a period of a few hours.

      It has been already found out that more than one half of all the fishes that have been caught in the sea near Fukushima contained radioactive metals in the fishes` bodies. Moreover, radioactive substances have been discovered in the organisms of fishes and whales 1,000 kilometers away from Fukushima.

      Tokyo Electric is saying that the Fukushima accident will create NO obstacles for holding the Olympic Games which are planned to take place in Tokyo in 2020. However, experts are saying that it will take NOT lesser than 40 years to fully eliminate the consequences of the Fukushima accident and to dismantle the Fukushima plant’s reactors.

      S. Shawcross

      Jan 29, 2014 at 1:23pm

      Why would Canadian lay people help the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute whose partners include the Department of Defence and the Department of Energy (read Nuclear) and the EPA which has failed miserably so far in their efforts to inform and/or protect people? Better citizens band together themselves for accurate reportable readings, in my opinion.


      Jan 29, 2014 at 8:15pm

      Mankind misses the big picture as usual. Thank God for Mr.Suzuki and others who are telling the truth about this disaster and its potential after effects. I think this is a wake up call for the entire human race. If Japan or parts of it ever sink into the Pacific with any of its 54 reactors and poison the oceans the fat lady will sing.


      Jan 29, 2014 at 10:15pm

      No one is asking the right questions. Given the limits on technology is it even possible to clean this up? We are putting a lot of faith in technology that has not yet been invented. Where is the team of scientists working in a round the clock lab to develop this? Or is it left up to corporate entities to develop and hope to sell it, for a profit, to nearly broke TEPCO? Is that pie in the sky smell baking right now?


      Jan 29, 2014 at 11:34pm

      Citizens can also help fill the gaps about Global Cooling.

      david taylor

      Jan 30, 2014 at 9:09am

      citizen scientists? japan is collecting hundreds of thousands of food samples a year. last year the japanese ministry of health labor and welfare took 300,000 food samples and tested for radiation
      canada's cfia, last year, tested 0 samples.

      that is simply unacceptable. Citisen scientists fuel the fear.

      Read more: Fukushima Radiation - Where Does the Fear Come From?


      Jan 30, 2014 at 4:53pm

      and nobody is mentioning the mox fuel that was in reactor 3 nasty...nasty stuff

      J. Nayer Hardin

      Jan 30, 2014 at 5:22pm


      1. ENTOMB! Construct a sarcophagus around Fukushima’s buildings and water pools/tanks to effectively contain this triple nuclear meltdown. Use the construction technology of 3D/4D printing to build the object shelters by printing layers of radiation shields. Behorkh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California, has a great design for the application of what he calls Contour Crafting.

      This construction technique builds on large/huge mobile construction gantries with suspended 3D / 4D printers that build/print around the areas that are radiating...the buildings and the tanks too. Enclose the pools used to hold the contaminated cooling waters too. Printed encasement layers could include:

      Layer A – Hempcrete – a strong hemp based concrete
      Layer B and B1 – Lead and Tungsten, blend or separate layers, whatever works best.
      Layer C - Steel which is being developed as a material for Chernobyl’s entombment.
      Layer D – Hemp plastic, it is waterproof and 10x stronger than steel.

      2. Heal Deal with the health problems associated with Fukushima. Stop the war on drugs at the foundation, the United Nations, so people can grow medical grade cannabis to make it into the cancer cure oil and other medical marijuana healing remedies. Make the oil using supercritical CO2 extraction and cook it down in a crock pot to the correct consistency. There are other effective non-toxic therapies, MMS, hydrotherapy, etc. to help deal with acute radiation syndrome and cancers we know come from the increased radiation exposure. Whatever materials are needed should be readily available for free if necessary.

      Incorporate Dr. Joel Wallach’s vitamins/minerals and wind pollinated hemp foods (in case the bee die off continues) for their nutritional benefits to nutritionally strengthen our bodies in earth’s elevated radiation environment. Promote a hemp flour based textured vegetable protein to better nourish folks as a result of both radiation and GMOs.

      3. PLANT! Phytoremediate by planting hemp, with its 6’ root system, to aerate and repair the soil. Also plant the radiation eating mushrooms identified by the Albert Einstein Institute, found growing around Chernobyl. Hydroponically grow these mushrooms in the pools of highly radiated water too.

      More information including links is posted on my blog http://hempnayer.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-to-fix-fukushima.html