Nuclear Pollution in the Ocean

One nuclear expert said that time was on their side. It doesn’t look that way. Attempts to avert worse disaster at Fukushima have the look of desperate measures. Millions of gallons of radioactive water are being dumped into the sea, with the new rationale that radioactive water is no big deal. They have no better options, because there is worse contamination building up and it has to go somewhere.

Japan sets new standards for acceptable levels of radiation in seafood, and, as always, there is ‘no immediate risk’. I think you can eat lead paint for quite a while with no immediate risk. Makes me wish I smoked.

Also Tuesday, TEPCO announced that samples taken from seawater near one of the reactors contained 7.5 million times the legal limit for radioactive iodine on April 2. Two days later, that figure dropped to 5 million.

The company said in a statement that even those large amounts would have “no immediate impact” on the environment but added that it was working to stop the leak as soon as possible.

The readings released Tuesday were taken closer to the plant than before apparently because new measuring points were added after the crack was discovered and did not necessarily reflect a worsening of the contamination. Other measurements several hundred yards away from the plant have declined to levels about 1,000 times the legal limit — down from more than four times that last week.

Experts agree that radiation dissipates quickly in the vast Pacific, but direct exposure to the most contaminated water measured would lead to “immediate injury,” said Yoichi Enokida, a professor of materials science at Nagoya University’s graduate school of engineering.

He added that seawater may be diluting the iodine, which decays quickly, but the leak also contains long-lasting cesium-137. Both can build up in fish, though iodine’s short half-life means it does not stay there for very long. The long-term effects of cesium, however, will need to be studied, he said.

I’m counting on the uncontrolled news leak to continue.

We have to look at the enormous investment we are about to make in more nuclear plants and see what we could accomplish with conservation, local clean energy and coordinated use of what we have.

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