Cesium 134, a radioactive isotope released by the 2011 Fukushima
disaster, has been detected on the US’ Pacific coast for the first time
by independent researchers.
catastrophic triple meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
power plant in 2011, the Japanese government and the plant’s parent
company, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), worked
to cover up the damage done and downplay the amount of
radiation the disaster had released into the environment.
Though the disaster’s many
impacts have been suspiciously absent from mainstream media
reports in the years since, the radiation pouring out of the plant’s
damaged reactors have never stopped. To this day, 300
tons of contaminated, radioactive water flow into the Pacific
day as many of the leaks can never be sealed due to the
Now, nearly six years after the
meltdown, radiation from Fukushima has
made landfall on the West coast of the United States,
signaling a dangerous new era for residents and wildlife along the
Pacific coastal region.
Researchers from the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), a crowd-funded team
of scientists, announced yesterday that they had detected, for the first
time, seaborne cesium 134 in seawater on the shores of Tillamook Bay in
Oregon. The group has been monitoring the waterborne radiation as
it extends from Fukushima across the Pacific for years. According to
WHOI as well as other scientists, cesium 134, a dangerous and
carcinogenic radioactive isotope, could only have originated from the
Fukushima disaster due to its short half-life, or rate of decay.
The samples themselves contained 0.3 becquerels/m3 of
the isotope, a relatively small amount that some researchers and
corporate media outlets say poses “no risk to humans or the
environment.” However, there
is no such thing as “safe” amounts of radiation, which is
particularly true of radioactive cesium as it imitates potassium within
the body. Japanese citizens were also told there was nothing to worry
about, despite the fact that cancer
rates have spiked since the incident.
The real and unstated danger here is that of
bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation refers to the gradual build-up over
time of chemicals in an organism, absorbing the substance at a faster
rate than it is excreted.
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
Children are said to be especially at risk. Another reason
why there is cause for concern is that these samples were actually
collected in January 2016 and not tested until recently, suggesting that
landfall may have happened earlier than thought. This, in turn, would
also mean that higher levels of cesium as more of Fukushima’s radiation
has made contact with Western coastal shores in the months since as
researchers have said that radiation will not “peak” until well after
the plume’s initial landfall.
matter how often the Japanese government, TEPCO, or the corporate media
say that radiation from Fukushima is nothing to worry, ignoring a
problem does not make it go away.
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. These trends, combined with
the devastating effects of over-fishing, led the World Wildlife Fund
warn that all marine life could die out before the year 2050,
less than forty years from now.
is incredible that a nuclear disaster that has leaked 300 tons of
radioactive water into the ocean every day for the last five years could
have no effect on the massive environmental crisis unfolding before our
Fukushima’s consequences are acknowledged and treated with the concern
they clearly merit, we will continue to be unable to understand the true
scope of the problem.