Fukushima is Polluting the World with BS
by Ted Williams
The Internet functions like a sewer system in reverse, and there is no better proof of this unhappy fact than the viral memes about Fukushima. I see two or three a week.
There is more BS spread about Fukushima than about Pat Robertson, Sara Palin and Jane Fonda combined (not that I’m a fan of any).
Always there’s a graph supposedly depicting death by radiation of “a third of the world’s oceans.” It is actually a NOAA graph mapping wave direction.
The latest memes show huge fish kills, implying that they are the result of Fukushima radiation. They are not.
Another meme claims that Fukushima is causing starfish to turn to mush. Starfish are turning to mush in a few places, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Fukushima.
This meme http://woked.co/fukushima-eating-fish-ocean/ warns of “300 to 450 lots [sic] of infected water being dripped from the Fukushima plant every day.” How big is one “lot”? Such is the quality of Internet Fukushima “reporting.”
In this post-truth age fake news should gall all of us. There is enough real bad news about the environment without adding fake news to it, so let’s be very suspicious and check out all posts about Fukushima via Snopes. And, for that matter, all alarmist memes. Such as: David Hogg was not at school during the shooting. E-cigarettes have ten times more carcinogens that regular cigarettes. The fact that seven native bees (all restricted to Hawaii) have been declared endangered means that alien honeybees (that degrade native ecosystems) may go extinct and we won’t have coffee or avocados. All BS exposed by Snopes or FactCheck.com.
“Snopes is for dopes,” is a refrain I keep hearing from radical conservatives who resent their BS being publicly exposed. I have relied on Snopes since it started, and I have never seen it to be wrong.
Let’s analyze recycled memes about Fukushima. Here are the most common claims:
1. As I mentioned, the alarming graphic suggests a map of radiation spread. It’s really a NOAA map of wave direction.
2. “Cesium 134, a dangerous and carcinogenic radioactive isotope [found in a sockeye salmon], could only have originated from the Fukushima disaster,” claims one meme. This is yellow journalism at its worst. This single fish, whose radiation levels were well below any metric used by any government agency to gauge exposure risk, remains the only fish to test positive for Fukushima radiation in North America; the actual amount of radiation you would be exposed to from this fish would be roughly equal to the amount you would get from eating any salmon as a result of naturally occurring radioisotopes.
3. “A dangerous new era for residents and wildlife along the Pacific coastal region.” BS. Absolutely no evidence for such a claim.
4. “A relatively small amount that some researchers and corporate media outlets say poses ‘no risk to humans or the environment.’” Implying that only “some” researches and the “corporate media” (whatever that means) say this BUT We Know Better. You get as much radiation from eating a pre-Fukushima fish as a post-Fukushima fish.
5. “However, there is no such thing as ‘safe’ amounts of radiation.” This old saw is a word game that plays to our fears. Natural radiation surrounds us. It’s what has allowed us and everything else to evolve. If it’s not “safe,” natural radiation is no more dangerous that coffee. Drink too much and you’ll get an ulcer.
6. “Now, that Fukushima radiation has reached the US, those living on the West Coast or eating fish from that region could be at risk if they consume radioactive water or fish as all consumed cesium would remain in their body, continuously causing damage until it is excreted.” Fake news. There is absolutely no evidence that this is true.
7. “The world’s oceans, particularly the Pacific Ocean, are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis as mass die-offs of fish and coral are signaling that something is horribly wrong.” Sure, there’s something “horribly wrong,” and it has absolutely nothing to do with Fukushima. It has to do with climate change and ocean acidification.
8. “These trends, combined with the devastating effects of over-fishing, led the World Wildlife Fund to recently warn that all marine life could die out before the year 2050, less than forty years from now.” Pure BS. The World Wildlife Fund’s warning had NOTHING to do with Fukushima.
Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, was measured in seawater samples taken from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are reporting.
Because of its short half-life, cesium-134 can only have come from Fukushima.
Also for the first time, cesium-134 has been detected in a Canadian salmon, the Fukushima InFORM project, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, is reporting.
Last month, the group reported that a single sockeye salmon, sampled from Okanagan Lake in the summer of 2015, had tested positive for cesium-134.
The level was more than 1,000 times lower than the action level set by Health Canada, and is no significant risk to consumers, Cullen said.
Cesium-134 has a half-life of two years, meaning it’s down to a fraction of what it was five years ago, he said. Cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life.