Bill Laughing-Bear testing a dead whale for a radiation reading in Alaska
Nearly a decade after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s government has decided to release contaminated water from the destroyed plant into the sea, media reports said on Friday, with a formal announcement expected to be made later this month according to a report by Reuters.
More than a million tons of radioactive water has built up at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant which was crippled during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as operator Tokyo Electric (Tepco) tries to cool the melted fuel cores by pouring water over them. Tepco has said it will run out of tank space by mid-2022.
The decision is expected to rankle neighbouring countries like South Korea, which has already stepped up radiation tests of food from Japan, and further devastate the fishing industry in Fukushima that has battled against such a move for years. It has long been known marine life in the area has been contaminated by leaking water seeping radiation into the sea.
In 2017, A study by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa revealed almost 50% of fish consumed on the islands of Hawai’i were contaminated with caesium 134 the radioactive finger-print of Fukushima.
The report also showed that migrating organisms can transport the Fukushima-signature (caesium 134) over significant distances as they showed detectable 134Cs (6.3±1.5 Bq/kg) in Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the California coast only a year after the incident.
Another study found caesium 134 in longfin tuna (Albacore) along the western coast of the US just one year after the Fukushima disaster.
The recent findings as you might expect are being played down and the usual sound-bites are telling us "it's nothing to worry about," something the powers that be have been saying for nearly 10 years now, with and still they are no nearer to fixing the problem.
The latest study by Alaska Sea Grant agent, Gay Sheffield claimed, a slightly elevated level of radioactive contamination connected to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected in the northern Bering Sea.
The level of caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, is extremely low and not considered a health concern, according to state epidemiologists.
The sampling, conducted by residents of Saint Lawrence Island, documents the Fukushima plume’s northern edge arriving in the Bering Sea for the first time and shows levels of caesium-137 higher than they were before the 2011 nuclear power plant accident in Japan.
The latest study shows an increase in levels of Fukushima-related contamination off the shores of Alaska, regular readers of The Big Wobble will know Bill Laughing-Bear has been keeping an eye on fish in Alaskan waters and has warned us all of rising radioactive contamination for years now. Recently other warnings have been published as the slow drip-drip-drop of information is slowly increasing.
The Asahi newspaper reported that any such release is expected to take at around two years to prepare, as the site’s irradiated water first needs to pass through a filtration process before it can be further diluted with seawater and finally released into the ocean.
In 2018, Tokyo Electric apologised after admitting its filtration systems had not removed all dangerous material from the water, collected from the cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting when the plant was crippled.
It has said it plans to remove all radioactive particles from the water except tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is hard to separate and is considered to be relatively harmless.
Last week, Japanese fish industry representatives urged the government to not allow the release of contaminated water from the Fukushima plant into the sea, saying it would undo years of work to restore their reputation.
South Korea has retained a ban on imports of seafood from the Fukushima region that was imposed after the nuclear disaster and summoned a senior Japanese embassy official last year to explain how Tokyo planned to deal with the Fukushima water problem.