Off our bedroom
Off our balcony
In the tree
In the nest
When the radiation comes
we can go inside
and seal the windows–
but what about her?
–Jessica Reynolds Renshaw
I wrote this right after the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011.
Of course we humans weren’t and aren’t any safer in our homes from radiation from the nuclear meltdowns in Japan than the fragile hummingbird exposed on her nest outside our window. Through the jet stream, rain and ocean currents, radiation is coming to us from Japan.
Six days after the disaster, a radioactive cloud blanketed parts of our continent’s west coast (especially Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Idaho) and there was a statistically significant increase in infant deaths in those areas over the next 10-14 weeks. (Mangano and Sherman)*
Since then, 300 tons of carcinogen-contaminated water–up to 93 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium–have been pouring into the Pacific every day, enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every eight days, according to Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.
“The dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination. Radioactive elements have not only been detected in the food chain in Japan, radioactive rain water has been recorded in California:
“Hazardous radioactive elements being released in the sea and air around Fukushima accumulate at each step of various food chains (for example, into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). Entering the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, continuously irradiating small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years often induce cancer”. (Helen Caldicott, Fukushima: Nuclear Apologists Play Shoot the Messenger on Radiation, The Age, April 26, 2011)
Don’t believe the nonsense about the amount being no more than in a banana or “a dried banana chip at Trader Joe’s.” Radiation, as radioactive iodine, cesium or Strontium-90 is a carcinogen and it is cumulative; the more you absorb, the more it builds up in your body, destroying or damaging healthy cells. Scientist and nuclear expert Dr. Helen Caldicott says “one millionth of a gram of plutonium, if inhaled, can cause cancer.” (I often wonder if the cumulative radiation in yearly mammograms can actually cause the breast cancer it uncovers.)
“Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has analyzed thousands of samples of fish from the area, said he’s continued to find the high levels of cesium-134, a radioactive isotope that decays rapidly. That indicates it’s still being released. ‘It’s getting into the ocean, no doubt about it,” he said. “The only news was that they finally admitted to this.’
“As . . . Buesseler’s research has shown, tests of local fish in the Fukushima area still show high enough levels of radiation that the Japanese government won’t allow them to be caught and sold for human consumption—a restriction that is costing Japanese fishermen billions of dollars a year in lost income.” http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/08/130807-fukushima-radioactive-water-leak/
Fish tested and found to be radioactive are turning up all around the world since Fukushima. For instance, “A report released earlier this month [February, 2013] by researchers at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station found that bluefin tuna caught just off the California coast tested positive for radiation stemming from the incident [at Fukushima].” Radioactive Fish Found In California: Contamination From Fukushima Disaster Still Lingers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/22/radioactive-fish_n_2743899.html
When Fukushima comes up in rare newscasts–and even on Wikipedia–it is always referred to as “the second worst nuclear accident in history.”
“While Chernobyl was an enormous unprecedented disaster, it only occurred at one reactor and rapidly melted down. Once cooled, it was able to be covered with a concrete sarcophagus that was constructed with 100,000 workers. There are a staggering 4400 tons of nuclear fuel rods at Fukushima, which greatly dwarfs the total size of radiation sources at Chernobyl.” (Extremely High Radiation Levels in Japan: University Researchers Challenge Official Data, Global Research, April 11, 2011) Chernobyl’s disaster was a partial meltdown and was contained within a relatively short time; Fukushima, which involved three meltdowns, has not yet been contained.
As of a year ago, Fukushima has already spewed much more radioactive cesium and iodine 131 than Chernobyl. http://birthofanewearth.blogspot.com/2013/08/fukushima-fallout-causing-elevated.html
*Mangano and Sherman, December, 2011. An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the US Follows Arrival of Radioactive Plume from Fukushima, Is there a Correlation? http://www.globalresearch.ca/an-unexpected-mortality-increase-in-the-us-follows-arrival-of-radioactive-plume-from-fukushima-is-there-a-correlation/28301
“Fukushima fallout arrived just six days after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns. Some samples of radioactivity in precipitation, air, water, and milk, taken by the U.S. government, showed levels hundreds of times above normal; however, the small number of samples prohibits any credible analysis of temporal trends and spatial comparisons.
“U.S. health officials report weekly deaths by age in 122 cities, about 25 to 35 percent of the national total. Deaths rose 4.46 percent from 2010 to 2011 in the 14 weeks after the arrival of Japanese fallout, compared with a 2.34 percent increase in the prior 14 weeks. The number of infant deaths after Fukushima rose 1.80 percent, compared with a previous 8.37 percent decrease. Projecting these figures for the entire United States yields 13,983 total deaths and 822 infant deaths in excess of the expected.
“These preliminary data need to be followed up, especially in the light of similar preliminary U.S. mortality findings for the four months after Chernobyl fallout arrived in 1986, which approximated final figures. We recently reported on an unusual rise in infant deaths in the northwestern United States for the 10-week period following the arrival of the airborne radioactive plume from the meltdowns at the Fukushima plants in northern Japan. This result suggested that radiation from Japan may have harmed Americans, thus meriting more research.
“We noted in the report that the results were preliminary, and the importance of updating the analysis as more health status data become available (1). Shortly after the report was issued, officials from British Columbia, Canada, proximate to the northwestern United States, announced that 21 residents had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first half of 2011, compared with 16 SIDS deaths in all of the prior year. Moreover, the number of deaths from SIDS rose from 1 to 10 in the months of March, April, May, and June 2011, after Fukushima fallout arrived, compared with the same period in 2010 (2).
“While officials could not offer any explanation for the abrupt increase, it coincides with our findings in the Pacific Northwest.”