In response to public concerns about the Pacific plumes of contaminated water coming from Fukushima's destroyed Daiichi nuclear reservation, researchers from UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cal Tech have launched a project dubbed "Kelp Watch 2014". The project includes 19 academic and governmental institutions plus three "organizations/businesses" according to the LBL newscenter. The LBL newscenter press release, the Los Angeles Times article on the project, but searches on the LBL site proved fruitless for determining who those three "organizations/businesses" might be.
The project will monitor the kelp forests off the California coast for contamination, for the stated purpose of easing public concerns about the situation. For instance, the LA Times article starts out with the preconceived conclusion, as if it weren't obvious...
Experts have been trying to dispel worries stemming from a burst of online videos and blog posts in recent months that contend radiation from Fukushima is contaminating beaches and seafood and harming sea creatures across the Pacific.[all bolded emphasis mine, throughout]
Those assertions are false and the concerns largely unfounded, scientists and government officials said last week, because Fukushima radionuclides in ocean water and marine life are at trace levels and declining - so low that they are trivial compared with what already exists in nature.
We are familiar with the campaign to ease public concerns about ongoing contamination of the Pacific launched this past year by oceanographers who took some samples in the Pacific in 2011 and again in 2012. This new phase of that campaign is specific to waters off the California coast and focuses on those important kelp beds rather than fish. The contaminated ocean currents from Fukushima are scheduled to reach the coast in the next couple of months.
In the months after the disaster, iodine-131 from atmospheric fallout in the plumes generated by the exploded reactor buildings at Daiichi contaminated California kelp to the level of 40 million Bq/m^3 just in tissues at the canopy level. The iodine is long decayed away now, but cesium levels have not 'gone away' even as the 134 isotope has undergone 1.5 half-lives. Ocean dumping of radionuclides from Fukushima has not diminished, but rather increased steadily since March of 2011. Beta contamination of groundwater from wells between the plants and ocean is rising rapidly since last summer, and TEPCO is now mentioning the subject of strontium in their data reports.
So far in the studies and data publicly reported, only iodine and/or cesium has been tested for. The lab claims this time it plans to produce "detailed radionuclide analysis" that will be made available to the public. Whether or not this includes the increasing strontium component is still an open question. We shall see. At any rate, the Berkeley Lab makes no bones about the purpose of this and all other sponsored research projects concerning Fukushima contamination by citing researchers over and over again delivering the already agreed-upon framing -
"Making our results available is a critical aspect of our work as it allows us to address concerns about Fukushima radiation levels and to explain the meaning and potential impact of these levels," he added, "particularly in the context of the natural radiation background we are exposed to in our daily lives."What I bolded immediately above as to this "critical aspect" of the project coincides with the Fisher lab's focus in the contaminated tuna study - to compare dangerous radionuclides from Fukushima to 'natural' background, medical x-rays, and K40 in bananas. Which is deliberately deceptive. You can limit your exposure to medical x-rays, and the 0.012% ratio of radioactive K40 in natural potassium never changes no matter how many bananas or potatoes you eat. Any potassium-rich food contaminated with cesium - a potassium mimic - delivers that much EXTRA internal dose. Any gamma exposure absorbed from bomb/reactor sources is in addition to gamma exposures from 'natural' or medical sources.
Radiation exposures are cumulative. Background plus nuke dumping is NOT the same as background alone, and cannot validly be written off by such comparison - it can only be compared. So when they tell you your dose from Fukushima cesium in, say, tuna is "less than" your dose of polonium-210 in that same tuna, what they're really saying is that your dose from eating that tuna has increased by your dose from Fukushima cesium. And they didn't bother to check for strontium, which bioaccumulates even more easily and permanently. Risks for health effects rise accordingly. And according to the EPA and NRC, there is no radiation dose level below which no biological damage is done. That's the Linear No Threshold [LNT] model.
We can hope the researchers involved in this testing will be more honest than TEPCO and the Japanese government and other 'authorities' have been about actual levels of contamination, and that they will include levels of all radionuclides from Fukushima that are of concern for ocean life and food chains. What we do not need to do is buy the banana bullshit designed to deceive us about what those levels mean. The levels are likely to be quite low - of no "immediate" health effects concern, but chronic low-level exposures add up over time - that's what "cumulative" means.
Those concerned should also bear in mind that the waterborne releases of radionuclides from Fukushima are ongoing 24-7 and increasing in severity of radionuclide presence. TEPCO's figure of ~400 tons of contaminated water per day going out is likely falsely low, but it is a figure establishing that there's crap coming out in huge amounts and not diminishing. Hence we can also hope that researchers will continue to monitor the contamination regularly in the future, not just take a few isolated samples and declare it over and done with (as those oceanographers have done). The U.S. government response to the disaster was to raise the limit for radionuclide contaminates in food to 1200 Bq/kg and declare the problem non-existent, so don't look for any help there.
We're on our own in this, the best we can hope for is data that hasn't been deliberately falsified. If you are concerned, make your choices accordingly as to what precautions you are willing to take. It is very much possible to limit your dose, but it takes some effort and ability to parse the data you can get hold of. This diary is a heads-up that there will soon be more data available. How comprehensive and reliable it will be, given the pre-conceived conclusions, is anybody's guess. So keep your salt lick handy!
Update On USS Reagan Group Sailors
House and Senate, they want details from the DoD. Pertinent quote from [apologist] Dr. Robert Peter Gale -
"...It's very unlikely that the Department of Defense would not have precise data on this."Well, duh. That's precisely what they're demanding DoD turn loose of. With the FOIA documents from NRC publicly available, they'd have a very hard time claiming they didn't monitor the damned plume. From right in the thick of it. Next maybe he'll tell us why the officers and flight crews got potassium iodide pre-deployment but the crews did not...