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Japan Science

Fukushima Fish Still Radioactive 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the teenage-mutant-ninja-mackeral dept.
the_newsbeagle writes "Bottom-dwelling fish that live near the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant still show elevated radiation levels 19 months after the accident — and those radiation levels are not declining. Researcher Ken Buesseler says this indicates the seafloor sediments are contaminated (abstract), and will remain so for decades. He said, 'I was struck by how [the radiation levels] really haven’t changed over the last year. Since cesium doesn't bioaccumulate to a significant degree, and in fact is lost when fish move to a less contaminated area, this implies that the cesium source is still there'"
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Fukushima Fish Still Radioactive

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  • Fish (Score:5, Funny)

    by AshFan (879808) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:31AM (#41776945)
    Simpsons already did it.
    • by Tarlus (1000874)

      I was really hoping the thumbnail would be the iconic three-eyed fish.

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Friday October 26, 2012 @11:40AM (#41778867) Homepage Journal

        The real problem is Global Warming.

        Don't be distracted by this attempt by radiation alarmists to take your eyes off-the-ball.

        We need more reactors, people!

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The real problem is people who think reactors are the only solution to global warming. Hint: Japan has just demonstrated how far energy efficiency alone can go, getting through the summer peak periods without any black/brownouts at all.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            More like. Japan figured out how more efficient their coal & oil burning generators can be with pollution regulations suspended.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            The real problem is people who think reactors are the only solution to global warming. Hint: Japan has just demonstrated how far energy efficiency alone can go, getting through the summer peak periods without any black/brownouts at all.

            And they accomplished this by turning off anything that uses electricity. Which might be something people put up with short-term at peak hysteria, but is not a viable solution long-term. Calling it "energy efficiency" is also highly misleading, as efficiency implies that you

            • by nobodie (1555367)

              Let me call bullshit on this. For example: if you turn off your air conditioning while you are away from the house, at work, then you will save about half your electric bill. If you turn off ALL the lights in your house before you leave you will reduce even more. Imagine now that you turn off your refrigerator while you are gone, your hot water heater, your television and your meter stops completely for 1/3 or more of the day. Now you have some real savings.

              This is not possible, you might say, but after liv

              • by ultranova (717540)

                Let me call bullshit on this.

                Well, as detailed below, you failed.

                For example: if you turn off your air conditioning while you are away from the house, at work, then you will save about half your electric bill.

                Must be fun living in the equator.

                If you turn off ALL the lights in your house before you leave you will reduce even more. Imagine now that you turn off your refrigerator while you are gone, your hot water heater, your television and your meter stops completely for 1/3 or more of the day. Now you hav

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Not just fish. Ever hear of Project Censored? [illinoistimes.com]

      A plume of toxic fallout floated to the U.S. after Japanâ(TM)s tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found radiation levels in air, water and milk that were hundreds of times higher than normal across the United States. One month later, the EPA announced that radiation levels had declined, and they would cease testing. But after making a Freedom of Information Act request, journalist Lucas Hixson publi

      • Re:Fish (Score:4, Informative)

        by prehistoricman5 (1539099) on Friday October 26, 2012 @12:23PM (#41779443)

        Whoever upvoted your post needs to be more skeptical. First of all, they just give a number without stating over what period of time. Secondly, the total deaths aren't stated so for all we know the death increase could be statistically insignificant. Third, fallout doesn't kill you like that. You don't just keel over and die; you get cancer that later kills you. Lastly, the "mostly among infants" claim shows that this is pure FUD.

        Oh and correlation != causation.

        • So I found the ignored article and I was none to surprised to find that there was some incredible extrapolation.

          link: http://www.radiation.org/reading/pubs/HS42_1F.pdf [radiation.org]

          "During weeks 12 to 25, total deaths in 119 U.S. cities increased from 148,395
          (2010) to 155,015 (2011), or 4.46 percent. This was nearly double the 2.34 percent
          rise in total deaths (142,006 to 145,324) in 104 cities for the prior 14 weeks,
          significant at p 0.000001 (Table 2). This difference between actual and expected
          changes of +2.12 percenta

      • by dwillden (521345)
        Funny, according to this http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf [cdc.gov] the initial mortality report for 2011 does not support your claims of death increases. In fact it states that Infant mortality dropped in 2011 vs 2010. In fact the total infant death count for 2011 was 23,910 versus 24,586 for 2010. Where is this additional 14k more than average found again, it wasn't among infants.
  • Uh-oh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:33AM (#41776989) Journal

    I'm pretty sure that any of several dozen rubbery-and-poorly-dubbed monster movies can tell us what happens next...

  • by tomhath (637240) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:36AM (#41777033)
    They've been monitoring the fish for a year and the radiation levels have remained constant. Makes me wonder what the radiation level was before the tsunami. I wouldn't want to eat bottom feeding fish downstream from a large city anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They compare the radiation levels to fish found nearby. It's obvious that the Fukushima fish are highly elevated.

    • by Grayhand (2610049) on Friday October 26, 2012 @11:39AM (#41778841)

      They've been monitoring the fish for a year and the radiation levels have remained constant. Makes me wonder what the radiation level was before the tsunami. I wouldn't want to eat bottom feeding fish downstream from a large city anyway.

      Come on! As rationalizing goes that's a stretch. Are you saying there was no spike caused by the release of radiation? You'd be the first to make that claim. The point is it's unchanged. I realize it's ancient history to most but we're seen this before. Remember all those nuclear tests in the 50s? The claim was the radiation would quickly disperse. In that case it not only didn't disperse it increased. It's the old predator/prey issue. What's low levels in algae eaters becomes high levels in predator fish that eat the algae eaters. It happens with mercury too. My concern is that some of what they are talking about like cesium levels have to decrease because of the short half life. One of two things are happening. Either more cesium is being released or what's there is concentrating in the fish so the concentration is offsetting the decay. Being pro nuclear doesn't mean you have to bury your head in the sand when there's an accident. Ignoring data won't help explain what's happening. If it's just concentration of what's there it should reverse in a few years. If it's continuing to leak then there's a bigger problem. The source of the new cesium may be something very obvious. The land was badly contaminated so that cesium is slowly entering the oceans for the rain washing it out of the soil. If this is the source then the fish may be contaminated for decades to come.

      • by tomhath (637240)

        The point is that bottom feeding fish below Fukushima show abnormally high levels of radiation. Was it caused by the meltdown? Probably, at least in part, but they can't say for sure how much. Is it getting better or worse? They don't seem to know.

      • by cjameshuff (624879) on Friday October 26, 2012 @05:52PM (#41783589) Homepage
        Cesium doesn't bioaccumulate. It's not concentrated in any tissues, it's quickly excreted like sodium, potassium, etc. Strontium bioaccumulates, being treated like calcium and concentrating in bones, but at Fukushima it mostly stayed in the reactors...the stuff that escaped was mainly cesium and iodine (and the iodine has by now almost entirely decayed).

        These fish are apparently maintaining a constant level by feeding in contaminated sediments that replace the cesium as fast as it is excreted. Predators will only have elevated levels while actively feeding on these bottom feeders. However, with a 30 year half life, there aren't many plausible sources for the cesium, it pretty clearly came from Fukushima. Given that a major tsunami had just happened, it's not surprising that there's a layer of sediment trapping the cesium. Possibly something could be done to free up the cesium so it can dilute more thoroughly, or cover it in uncontaminated sediments so bottom feeders don't get into it so much.
  • So long... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:40AM (#41777073)

    And Thanks for all the.... never mind.

  • They don't know if the reactor is still leaking, all they do know is that the fish are at the similar level as before. It seems to me that something is still reacting under all that water. The problem is that radioactivity is a pollutant at doesn't solve itself in a few years even if everything is cleaned up the waste is still creating reacting. The problem with earthquakes is that there is nothing to protect the fragile ..Do not shake stuff in our world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:47AM (#41777153)

    If the seafloor is contaminated with cesium and it behaves like it did in the sands of the Bikini Atoll, the radioactive substance is eventually buried so that the top sediments seem perfectly clean but the plant life attached to the seafloor raise the cesium back up and it returns to the food cycle. Then again, this is seafloor and the plant life is different.

  • Absolute numbers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:48AM (#41777171)

    I read both articles and the abstract, and couldn't find any actual numbers for how radioactive the fish are. And what I did find only made me want that answer more.

    The only number that was being thrown around was "40%", in that 40% of fish caught in the Fukushima area exceed the limit for radiation, which is currently 100Bq/kg. But that's a rather low limit - before the accident, the limit was set to 500Bq/kg, but was tightened to reduce fears of contamination. And in the US (ever a paragon of strict food safety</sarcasm>), the limit is 1200Bq/kg.

    So my question is, just how high *are* the radiation levels? Are the ones being rejected as unsafe doing so because the standards were tightened, or because they're genuinely highly radioactive?

  • Future nuclear tech holds promise but the generation of fission reactors deployed today requires an independent and transparent regulatory regime to watch over it. Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island tell us we don't have this today. Everyone of these disasters began with a coverup. Therefore we do not have the moral authority to run today's generation of fission nukes.
    • Why are you comparing 3 reactors in the different country with three different regulatory control?

      I would argue the Three Mile Island shows us the regulatory system working, since exactly no one was harmed from that event.

      That said, I think the government should build and Run Nuclear power plants. Sell the electricity at cost to energy companies who can make money through.
      Remove bonus and person gain from how a nuclear plant is run.

      " Everyone of these disasters began with a coverup"
      Not true.

      I would say:
        corporations do not have the moral authority to run today's generation of fission nukes.

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday October 26, 2012 @11:01AM (#41778263) Journal

        That said, I think the government should build and Run Nuclear power plants.

        I'd might willing to get behind the notion of turning it over to the US Navy; decades of reactor operation without any significant radioactive releases or (nuclear related) accidents. Not so sure that we want to see it turned over a civilian bureaucracy though.

      • by Meeni (1815694)

        TMI essentially ended up well by luck. The operators were clueless of what was going on for quite a while, and many procedures were unfit. We learnt a lot from this one exactly for that reason, there was so many mistakes to learn from. But essentially, the catastrophic outcome was averted because the conditions kind of resolved for themselves.

        Cernobyl ended up bad by lack of luck. After the initial mistake (could have been averted with better procedures, but again, no design is perfect, so we should conside

        • by FirstOne (193462)

          "The lack of emergency diesel to be deployed by helicopter is puzzling,"

          Lack of electrical power was just the tip of iceberg.. Most of the electric motors driving the pumps, and their control systems located in Turbine Hall basements were flooded by salt water, thus requiring significant efforts(months worth) to restore. Backup Generators were onsite within 6 hours..

        • by tp1024 (2409684) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:50PM (#41780573)

          Purposefully deactivating all security mechanisms and automatic control of a reactor in order to try and get a chain reaction going despite Xenon poisoning of the core isn't lack of luck. Removing all but 12 control-rods from a reactor that needs at least 30 to maintain a negative void coefficient (which the automatic control doesn't allow) isn't lack of luck.

          Chernobyl wasn't lack of luck.

          In fact, after 1986, all RBMK reactors used somewhat higher enriched fuel (2.4% or so) with absorbers included into fuel rods to permanently give the reactors a negative void coefficient. A fact that is widely ignored by the public.

          Also, as the WASH-1250 report pointed out in 1975 - before TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima - having a large containment with containment spray as was the case with all PWRs as opposed to BWRs built before the 1990ies isn't luck. But was credited back in 1975 with retaining a much larger amount of radionuclides compared to BWRs. That's because of larger retention times, as the larger volume has a much slower pressure build-up and containment spray can remove both iodine and caesium from the containment-air before venting. The accident in Fukushima proved this report to be accurate. (And unlike Japan, many European countries adopted counter-measures in the form of filtered containment vents that can remove 99.99% of Cs and 99% of iodine during venting.)

          TMI wasn't luck.

          As the WASH-1250 also pointed out, floods and tsunamis ('tidal waves') were known as a major risk that could lead to melt-downs and must be dealt with. Both Onagawa to the north of Fukushima and Tokai to the south of Fukushima were prepared for and hit by the tsunami, resulting in non-events, as the inlets for cooling water were sealed and no vital equipment was destroyed. Strangely enough, they were able to foresee what it takes to prepare for a tsunami, but the Fukushima power stations were not prepared.

          Fukushima Daiichi and Daini weren't prepared. But out of ten reactors only five lost emergency power supply - those with Mark I Containments. All others had Mark II containments mong them only reactor #6 in Fukushima Daiichi (current generation BWRs would have a Mark IV or Mark V containment, if they hadn't stopped numbering after Mark III). Those retained at least one emergency generator. That wasn't luck either, but an advanced safety concept calling for two separate sections that could provide all functions necessary for the safety of the reactor. Including an air-cooled emergency generator. No additional air-cooled generators were supplied to any of the Mark I containments, even though the Mark II containment made it plonkingly obvious to anybody that they were needed. And those are cheap compared to a nuclear power plant.

          What's worse is that the japanese regulator NISA specifically told plant operators that total station black-outs need not be included in safety drills. Personell could not properly deal with the situation, despite having the necessary equipment to mitigate it by using the firefighting equipment to pump cooling water into the reactor. Those had been equiped with the necessary joints to plug the pumps right in, as the (american) designers of the containment had the foresight to deal with this possibilty. Training would have included knowing how and when to properly vent the containment, without creating a backwash into the containment building and opening the blow-out panels to prevent hydrogen build-up in case of a meltdown - as was done in reactor #2 where no explosion occured.

          Fukushima wasn't bad luck.It was lack of training, safety equipment and regulation that had been established decades ago in other countries.

        • by hubang (692671)
          I seem to remember that there was an offer to fly generators in from a US Aircraft Carrier (I believe the Enterprise) that was anchored off coast. I also seem to remember the offer being turned down by the Japanese government, since they had generators on trucks enroute. I think they also had a problem with all the coolant wiring being flooded.

          I know the trucks didn't get there until the next day, since the roads were a mess, and by then it was too late to do any good.
      • Ah, yes. Make operators of nuclear plants government employees. If you liked the service at the Post Office, then you'll love what we're going to do with radioactive material!
        • in the UCMJ there are things that you will get SHOT for that are not actually criminal otherwise.

          Go Ahead and track down the number of Nuclear Accidents in the Navy that were not the result of
          1 navy ships getting shot at for some reason
          2 deliberate acts of Stupid/Sabotage
          3 Nuclear Materials going "missing"

           

        • by samkass (174571)

          Ah, yes. Make operators of nuclear plants government employees. If you liked the service at the Post Office, then you'll love what we're going to do with radioactive material!

          Home delivery 6 days a week and web forms for everything you could need... I actually really like the service at the Post Office.

    • Chernobyl : They experimented with a live reactor, turned off many of the safety systems, including many that cannot be disabled on most reactors

      Fukushima : Ran 6 reactors beyond their design lifetimes, ignored recommendations to increase the height of the tsunami defences, ignored safety inspection failures, ignored recommendations to protect backup generators. The reactors survived largely intact a massive earthquake and mostly intact after a huge tsunami (unlike all the conventional power station

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday October 26, 2012 @10:09AM (#41777461)

    So fugu (potentially lethal blowfish) sushi is insanely popular and expensive.... how long until we see Fukushima flounder sushi? The actual amount of cesium in two tiny pieces of fish can't be *that* harmful, can they?

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      So fugu (potentially lethal blowfish) sushi is insanely popular and expensive.... how long until we see Fukushima flounder sushi? The actual amount of cesium in two tiny pieces of fish can't be *that* harmful, can they?

      How much cesium does it take to clean your clock?

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      So fugu (potentially lethal blowfish) sushi is insanely popular and expensive.... how long until we see Fukushima flounder sushi? The actual amount of cesium in two tiny pieces of fish can't be *that* harmful, can they?

      This is always the argument. How much of a toxic agent can I eat before I get sick? With lead there were "safe" levels given in the past but more recently it's been found there are no safe levels especially in children. The same with mercury. They say some levels are okay in fish because the figure the health benefits of the fish outweigh the damage of the mercury. A real devil's deal. Look there's no way to avoid radioactive materials. Every handful of dirt probably contains a tiny trace amount of Uranium

      • by Anonymous Coward


        With lead there were "safe" levels given in the past but more recently it's been found there are no safe levels especially in children.

        That's more than a little misleading. I'm sure what you'll find is that there's no evidence there's a threshold beyond which no harm can occur. You may say that's the same thing as saying "there's no safe level", but what you don't realize is that most people define the word safe in those ultra-precise definition meaning "absolutely zero potential for harm".

        For instance, m

  • how radioactive (Score:1, Informative)

    by ssam (2723487)

    bananas are radioactive. so is lots of stuff.

    with a good gamma ray you can detect tiny traces of radioactivity. you can also identify the isotope it came from. if its potassium then its natural, if its caesium then its from a recent man made source. if the radiation from caesium is 1% the amount from the potassium you can still measure it, and write a scary headline.

    probably the heavy metals in the fish will do you far more harm. and thats probably elevated with all the cars and junk that got washed into th

  • Rinji news o moshiagemasu!
    Rinji news o moshiagemasu!
    Godzilla ga Ginza hoomen e mukatte imasu!
    Daishkyu hinan shite kudasai!
    Daishkyu hinan shite kudasai!
  • They asked it and it said yes.
  • Seem unlikely? Remember we're talking about a country that has vending machine for schoolgirl panties. You could use an image of Godzilla in the ads for it.
  • Why does it surprise anyone that fish dwelling near the reactor are still radiactive 19 months later? 19 months after what? after the leak began, and has been only slightly reduced? the leak didn't stop, and it's still ongoing.

    the mainstream media stopped dwelling on this, all the while people in North America consume products with high radiation.
  • This is the expected pattern, followed by a steady progression into the food chain as these fish are eaten by their predators.
    • by MrKaos (858439)

      This is the expected pattern, followed by a steady progression into the food chain as these fish are eaten by their predators.

      And the expected reaction by the nukler fanbois

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