No Immediate Threat

Just by comparison, there’s no immediate threat in cigarettes, asbestos, lead paint and small doses of arsenic or mercury. From the Japan Times…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cesium spikes in Tokyo Bay samples
Contamination linked to Fukushima plant; no immediate threat to health

Staff writer

Sludge samples taken at the mouths of two major rivers emptying into Tokyo Bay showed radioactive cesium contamination linked to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis grew by 1.5 to 13 times since August, a researcher at Kinki University said Monday.

The contamination poses no immediate health risk since no seafood from Tokyo Bay has seen contamination levels exceed the government-set threshold. But close, long-term monitoring of the seabed mud is needed, said Hideo Yamazaki, professor at Kinki University’s Research Institute for Science and Technology.

“Contamination is flowing into the bay from rivers, including the Edogawa River, where cities with high radiation levels like Kashiwa (in Chiba Prefecture) are located upstream,” Yamazaki told The Japan Times.

“Contaminated sludge appears to be . . . accumulating on the bottom at the mouth of the rivers,” he added.

But that’s far away in Japan. No problem here, right? Thomas D. Elias in The Mercury reports from California…

Anyone looking for the most under-reported story of the spring in California need venture no farther than the tall stalks of kelp swaying back and forth just beneath the ocean surface along much of the California coast.

Fish eat kelp; so do small crustaceans near the bottom of the food chain which themselves are later consumed by larger fish that sometimes become food for humans. The largely neglected news story is that it’s been somewhat radioactive off and on for months and it concentrates Iodine 131 isotopes at levels 10,000 times higher than what’s in the surrounding water.

At the same time, steam generator problems have kept the San Onofre nuclear generating station near the Orange-San Diego county line closed for three months, with no reopening in sight as California heads into the summer season of peak electricity consumption. This combination of events ought to have California authorities deeply questioning the state’s heavy reliance on power from both San Onofre and the Diablo Canyon atomic plant on the Central Coast.

There’s no easy way to solve our energy problems, but unless we take it on faith that titanic nuclear plants are unsinkable we have to look at diverse, local and conserving answers.

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