Well, even the NYTimes has gotten around to covering the ongoing Fukushima nightmare:

Scientists have played down the current threat from contaminated water, saying the new leaks are producing small increases in radioactivity in the Fukushima harbor that remain far lower than immediately after the March 2011 crisis.

“This continued leakage is not the scale of what we had originally,” said Ken O. Buesseler, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod who has long studied the disaster. “But it’s persistent.”

Perhaps the principal threat of the radioactive water is to the Japanese government, which after all the missteps cannot afford to look feckless before a citizenry that is already distrustful of its pronouncements and dubious about nuclear energy.

See what they did there? Instead of reporting the actual numbers of the recent radiation spike (18X higher than originally thought), they say “scientists” have played down the current threat of contaminated water.

The reporter then quotes a Woods Hole scientist as if he were a big-picture expert. But he’s not. Woods Hole is home to marine biologists, and Woods Hole has been studying the effect of the radiation on marine life, not human life. Just sayin’.

Thanks to Steve Duckett.

3 thoughts on “Fukushima

  1. I remain suspicious that we are falling for sleight of hand and that the plume is an issue of some magnitude. That aside, I can’t get the picture of what’s being done. Are they pumping water into the vessels, buildings or holes in the ground? How is it being pumped in and then recaptured? Why aren’t they recycling the same cooled water across the rods over and over? Is the water table so shallow that the original buildings were holding back ground water before the explosions? If not, what brought ground water into the picture? Finally, where do you find answers with any residual credibility after government and industry has lied about this event as a matter of course?

  2. “…Scientists have played down the current threat…”
    That is really not true at all, and again to even imply that the only place of concern is Fukushima Harbor is very misleading from a big picture standpoint.

    Let’s look at work from scientists from the University of Hawaii:


    They’ve got an interesting moving model you can look at estimating where the plume of radiation will go in the ocean over a ten year period. At the end of ten years – pretty much dispersed, but with the highest residual concentrations occurring off the coast of Baja California.

    (Hi, San Diego!)

    Speaking of research/ocean scientist Buesseler, here is a news release from Woods Hole in April 2012, discussing the findings over the first year, including Buesseler’s work:


    And an excerpt or two –

    “…In addition, although levels of radioactivity in marine life sampled during the cruise were well below levels of concern for humans and the organisms themselves, the researchers leave open the question of whether radioactive materials are accumulating on the seafloor sediments and, if so, whether these might pose a long-term threat to the marine ecosystem…”

    “…First, the region is dominated by the Kuroshio, a large, fast current much like the Gulf Stream that flows north near the coast of Japan before turning east along the shore of the Chiba Peninsula. At the same time, a smaller, nutrient-rich current known as the Oyashio flows south along the northeast coast and mixes with the Kuroshio offshore from Fukushima.

    “Having two strong currents in the region make this a very complex part of the ocean to study,” said Jayne, who had studied the region in the past. “It also makes this a very productive part of the ocean and a very active fishery. With all that water moving around in complex ways, areas that are low one day could be high the next.

    As if to underscore that complexity, the group found that the Kuroshio acted as a barrier that prevented the movement of radionuclides to the south. In addition, they found the highest levels of radiation not in samples taken within sight of the reactors, but in those taken much further south along the coast of Ibaraki. The drifter tracks later revealed that an eddy, a swirling mass of water that sometimes breaks off from strong currents like the Kuroshio, had formed in the area and hugged the coast, likely drawing in contaminated water and maintaining higher concentrations of radionuclides…”

    So, to go back to the statement about playing this down because things don’t look all that much worse in Fukushima Harbor – so frigging what?

    The work of Woods Hole over the first year showed that the combination of ocean currents tend to take the stuff down the coast to the Ibaraki region – not Fukushima Harbor.

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