Day 449 Sorry, Charlie

Nuclear Tuna and NPR’s Trivialization

NPR shouldn’t trivialize the risk of radioactive tuna from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Yesterday, National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story asserting that cesium-137 from the Fukushima nuclear accident found in Bluefish tuna on the west coast of the U.S. is harmless.It is not advisable to eat Bluefin Tuna. (Photo by tokyofoodcast)

It’s not harmless. The Fukushima nuclear accident released about as much cesium-137 as a thermonuclear weapon with the explosive force of 11 million tons of TNT. In the spring of 1954, after the United States exploded nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, the Japanese government had to confiscate about 4 million pounds of contaminated fish.

Radiation from Fukushima spread far and wide. Like American hydrogen bomb testing, the Fukushima nuclear accident deposited cesium-137 over 600,000 square-miles of the Pacific, as well as the Northern Hemisphere and Europe. With a half-life of 30 years, cesium-137 is taken up in the meat of the tuna as if it were potassium, indicating that the metabolism holds on to it.

According to a previously secret 1955 memo from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission regarding concerns of the British government over contaminated tuna, “dissipation of radioactive fall-out in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but that in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific. We can speculate that tuna which now show radioactivity from ingested materials have been living, in or have passed through, such pockets; or have been feeding on plant and animal life which has been exposed in those areas.” 

In 2001, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry noted that “…concentrations of cesium within muscle tissue are somewhat higher than the whole-body average. Cesium has been shown to cross the placental barrier of animals...”

There are several reasons why it’s not advisable to eat Bluefin tuna:

  • Cesium-137 adds to the contaminant risk of harm to humans eating the Bluefin tuna, especially pregnant women and infants, who are the most vulnerable, and will for some time to come.
  • Bluefin tuna is an endangered species because of over-fishing and contamination.
  • Bluefin tuna accumulate other contaminants such as mercury from sources such as coal-fired power plants.

If NPR had been around in the 1950’s, would it also have trivialized the impacts of open-air hydrogen bomb testing?

© 2012 Institute for Policy Studies
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A good read:

Flawed MIT Study Used To Dismiss Need For Nuclear Disaster Evacuations

May 25th, 2012 MIT released a new study last week proclaiming that “the guidelines governments use to determine when to evacuate people following a nuclear accident may be too conservative. “

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And then there are voices from the opposing side:

Research Finds Fukushima Radiation Danger Less Than Feared

Over a year has passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, and new research is being published about the impact of its radiation leaks. As you might expect, studies are finding that the dangers are far less than what we were told by anti-nuclear activists and sensational media reporting.

Over at NPR, an article (“Nuclear Tuna Is Hot News, But Not Because It’s Going To Make You Sick“) notes that trace amounts of cesium were found in tuna:

So the question is, how much more radiation did these particular tuna fish contain? The answer is: A trivial amount. In fact, radiation from the cesium is 30 times less than the radiation that’s already in the fish naturally in the form of potassium-40, according to the research paper. And the natural polonium-210 packs a radiation dose 200 times larger than the dose from the cesium

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Gee, how strange. This NHK article has no mention whatsoever about cesium. The bluefin tuna was caught in the waters off of the Tohoku area. No cesium? Hmmm…

Sea of Japan port has first bluefin tuna catch

Fishermen have unloaded hundreds of bluefin tuna in a port in western Japan for this year’s first catch.

A crane was used to unload the 500 bluefin tuna weighing a total 18 tons in Sakai port in Tottori Prefecture on Saturday.

Fishermen caught the tuna in the Sea of Japan off the northeast Tohoku region.

After being gutted and stuffed with ice, the tuna, each weighing 30 to 50 kilograms, were put on auction at the port’s market.

The tuna fetched better prices than those last year at about 22 to 35 dollars per kilogram.

The head of an organization that promotes bluefin tuna consumption said he is happy to see the first catch of the season and active tuna trade.

Jun. 3, 2012 – Updated 01:57 UTC (10:57 JST)

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From ENENEWS at:

Japan Times Blasts Gov’t: Dangerous obsession with restarting reactors — Officials ‘fearful of public opinion opposing restart’

Quickstep to restarting reactors
Japan Times Editorial
Sunday, June 3, 2012


The central government’s dangerous obsession with restarting the reactors is highlighted by the fact that it has not even worked out a road map to phase out nuclear power generation.

If the central government decides to restart the Oi reactors, it will be clear that it has not given serious thought to the nuclear catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Thorough scrutiny of the Fukushima nuclear crisis has yet to be completed, and no new nuclear safety standards and regulations based on the Fukushima disaster have been devised. Despite these glaring omissions, the central government is making an all-out effort to bring the Oi reactors on line.


It must be pointed out that the central government is pushing for the restart of the reactors in the absence of concrete means to prevent the release of radioactive substances in the event of a severe accident and a concrete plan to evacuate people in communities near a stricken nuclear power plant.

Moreover, the central government and nuclear power industry are not equipped with technologies to solve the long-term issue of how to safely store the highly radioactive waste that is accumulating as the result of nuclear power generation.


The recent development with regard to the restart of the Oi reactor points to further deterioration of the quality of Japan’s politics. Fearful of public opinion opposing the restart, the central government waited for a change in the political mood.


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More people suffer leukemia if both parents exposed to A-bombing

HIROSHIMA, June 3, Kyodo

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Kyoto Proposes to Become “Backup Capital” in a Disaster

They are counting that whatever disaster hits Tokyo won’t hit Kyoto at the same time.
Kyoto is not without danger, as it is located downwind from the “Nuclear Ginza” (including Ooi Nuclear Power Plant and Monju) in Fukui Prefecture. For that matter, nowhere in Japan seems safe from a nuclear accident.

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From ENENEWS at:

Chicago Tribune Headline: ‘Fukushima quake/tsunami disturbed upper atmosphere’ -NASA

Fukushima quake/tsunami disturbed upper atmosphere
Chicago Tribune (Reuters)
Deborah Zabarenko; edited by Doina Chiacu
May 30, 2012

The massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Fukushima, Japan, last year wreaked havoc in the skies above as well, disturbing electrons in the upper atmosphere, NASA reported.

The waves of energy from the quake and tsunami that were so destructive on the ground reached into the ionosphere, a part of the upper atmosphere that stretches from about 50 to 500 miles (80 to 805 km) above Earth’s surface.


Scientists have seen this phenomenon before, for tsunamis in Samoa in 2009 and Chile in 2010.




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