On the Japanese Broadcasting Co Fukushima website NHK (which I find pretty good on the whole) a piece was posted three days ago headlined ‘Fukushima water tank radiation rises’. In fact, the level rose by eight times from March to December 2013. Tepco were quick to point out that it was due to the increasing number of storage tanks for radioactive water at the plant. There are now about 1,000 tanks at the site. It made me wonder WTF they’re going to do with all that nuked water, but otherwise the piece was fairly unremarkable.
At the bottom of the page, however, there is the usual ‘Continue Reading’ panel. This is what you get after pressing it:
Clicking on the above link takes you to a piece about demonstrations in Bangkok, which as you know is quite near to Fukushima. Please techies, no accusations of user error thank you…try it for yourselves.
I mentioned two weeks ago that Californian photographer Ken Rockwell had stopped putting out his daily rads readings in California. He has confirmed that he was “given notice” by the authorities, but won’t say who, or give any details. “I’m not allowed to say any more,” he emailed yesterday, “I suggest if you care you should get your own meter”. What interests me about Rockwell is that he has no agenda.
There remain a number of hysterical claims and hoaxes (‘Mutant squid washed ashore in California’ is the latest) and I’m still waiting for a YouTube video showing California meter readings….what could be so hard about putting that up? However, I try to have a balanced view on this incident….and I am far from convinced it is Much ado about Nothing.
That Tepco, Abe’s government and the USS Navy have used lies, spin and evasion is no longer in doubt; the question in my mind remains, what are the consequences likely to be? My answer so far is “dire for those heavily exposed to the incident”, but “unknown for those living on the US West Coast”.
However, solid, scientific data without agendas are starting to emerge.
Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported last Friday for instance that the government-affiliated Fisheries Research Agency had tested a small shoal of black sea bream. Some had dangerously high rad levels, including one with a staggering 12,400 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium – 124 times the maximum of 100 allowed in food. The fish were caught 37 kilometers south of the GE-built Tepco plant, and the tests were carried out in October and November.
The varying levels in the fish are not unexpected: fish wander all over the place. What’s unclear is how the levels looked in 2011, and what would happen if one tested the fish, say, 100 kilometres away. (Also unclear, in my view, is why it took over six weeks to publish the results). But if the rad levels are shown to dissipate within a few hundred miles, then while this remains an ecological disaster of massive proportions, it would suggest that claims of damage beyond the immediate zone might be exaggerated.
What we now know, of course, is that since those fish were tested, things have got worse at the site. Radioactive rads are allegedly being removed and “neutralised”, but as usual it’s all shrouded in secrecy.
The LA Times ran a piece two days ago saying that wild blogosphere claims were ‘false and the concerns largely unfounded, because Fukushima radionuclides in ocean water and marine life are at trace levels and declining — so low that they are trivial compared with what already exists in nature.”There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Well, somebody’s telling porkies. Stay tuned.