Photography © Jennifer Matthews
The Apologists for Fukushima
The lab director of my x-ray crystallography course told us, “As we learn more about radiation, the acceptable limits for x-ray exposure go down. The less exposure, the better.” That was 1972. Today, more than 40 years later, the acceptable limits continue to drop. Today we understand through experience with radiation contamination from Chernobyl, with lead and other auto emissions, and with manufacturing chemicals, that any incremental increase in environmental poison is to be prevented if at all possible.
We know too that to assess the consequences of a release of radioactive material in the world’s oceans on human health will take many years and that that assessment will surely disclose elevations in leukemia, lymphoma, thyroid and breast cancer, and childhood cancers as has been shown from continental Europe following the 1986 Chernobyl accident. And whatever we learn in the future, that carcinogenic release and its poisonous effects are irreversible.
Under the guise of expert opinion, we are invited to accept arguments without attribution to the scientific literature. We are provided with straw-man arguments that tritium contamination is relatively benign while the far more dangerous carbon-14, cobalt-60, strontium-90, technetium-99, ruthenium-106, iodine-129, cesium-134, and cesium-137 contaminants are ignored. We know that these poisons will be concentrated in seaweed, fish, and other sea creatures. We know that that contamination will be detectable and have its malignant effects on those dependent on these foods. We know that eventually those poisons will distribute themselves widely throughout the world to virtually everyone who eats salt-water seafood.
Consider cesium-134 and cesium-137 which taken together fall at number 6 on the list of the most abundant contaminants in Fukushima waste water3, totaling 150 becquerels (Bq) per liter. The biological half-life of cesium in children is about 53 days and is longer in adults. To totally clear cesium from the body requires many half-lives. For perspective. the cesium contamination in a liter of Fukushima’s water which is present in the body for 100 days would produce a radiation dosage of about 1.2 rem, i.e. about twice the average total radiation dose to which each resident of the United States is exposed each year. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that radioactive cesium ingestion can increase the risk of cancer. The total volume of the planned release is just short of a billion liters.
We are told to discard the possibility of transporting the contaminated water inland to a specially constructed underground reservoir because that risks accidental release. Though transporting the contaminated water to permanent storage is expensive, we are left with the cheap and reckless alternative of simply releasing all of the contaminants into the earth’s oceans so that their effects my reach virtually everyone in the world. Why shouldn’t we spend the money when the alternative is clearly so much worse?
The author of this letter is a brain scientist. He is not published in nuclear regulatory or related journals. These issues, however, are a long-time interest and the author has many decades experience in searching for new knowledge and in recognizing false arguments and unrecognized truths that others have missed. The planned release of radioactive contaminants from Fukushima into the world’s oceans is unnecessary and unjustified. The arguments to do so are fallacious and deceptive. The massive release of poison into the worlds oceans does not serve the people of Japan, the people of the Pacific rim, or the people of the world. Rather it serves the moneyed and powerful who are responsible for building a nuclear power plant without access to backup electricity to keep the core under control.
ML050400427.pdf (nrc.gov) Tables 1 and 2: 117, 118
00326631.pdf (fas.org) Figure 1: 121
Radiation Dose Limits and Units (robruark.com)
Health effects and radiation protection study (wua-wien.at)
Opening the floodgates at Fukushim. K. O. Buesseler. Science 369 (6504), 7Aug2020: 621-2.
The Biological Half-life of Cesium-137 in Children Determine… : Health Physics (lww.com)
Fact Sheet 0902 – Cesium-137 | Ohio Department of Health
Doses In Our Daily Lives | NRC.gov 26Apr2022:.
factoid2-lrg.gif (846×525) (nrc.gov)
Radionuclide Basics: Cesium-137 | US EPA
No, the Fukushima water release is not going to kill the Pacific Ocean (theconversation.com)
Japan plans to release Fukushima’s wastewater into the ocean | Science | AAAS
Fukushima: Japan prepares to release 1.3 million tonnes of treated wastewater into the sea | Euronews
Fukushima: Japan insists release of 1.3m tonnes of ‘treated’ water is safe | Fukushima | The Guardian
Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher whose focus is the electric activity within the brain. He is author of the 2020 hybrid collection, Discovery (Cyberwit), the 2022 hybrid chapbook, When Danger Is Past, Who Remembers? (Milk and Cake Press), a 2020 Pushcart nominee, and a 2020 Creative Nonfiction Foundation Science-as-Story Fellow. His work has appeared in Seneca Review, The Asahi Shimbun, Beltway Quarterly, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, American Journal of Nursing, Neurology, and others, and has been translated into Farsi, Greek, Italian, German, Turkish, Romanian, and Portuguese.
Poet/Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.