Reporters wear personal protective gear while touring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, Nov. 7, 2013. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Pool via The New York Times)
When was the last time you heard an update about the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the evening news? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You might take the silence to mean that everything’s fine, but it’s not. In fact, if the little blips and pieces of news coming out of Japan are any indication, things are far from fine, and are getting worse by the second. Those of us in other countries, even on the other side of the world, may soon get our own taste of nuclear fallout.
On New Year’s Day (nearly three years after the initial incident) operators of the Fukushima plant reported that “plumes of most probably radioactive steam” had been seen rising from the reactor 3 building. According to RT.com, “the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.” Unfortunately, high levels of radiation inside the building make it nearly impossible to determine the source of the mystery steam. Although TEPCO, the plant’s operator, claims there’s no increased danger (small comfort from the people who admitted to the world that they have no control over the situation), most agree that the plant is just seconds away from another disaster.
Just a year after the nuclear disaster, Japanese farmers were allowed to return to their fields near the plant. This despite government estimates that it could take as long as 40 years to clean up the farmland around the Fukushima plant. Despite claims that the area has been cleaned up, the farmers themselves know that they’re simply growing food stuffs in contaminated soil. Although all farm produce must be checked for the cesium level prior to shipping (below 100 becquerel is considered “safe”), the farmers refuse to eat it themselves and are stricken with guilt over selling it to their countrymen.
Seafood Industry Threatened
Toward the end of last year, U.S. scientists and wildlife specialists officially became worried about Fukushima’s impact on the fishing industry. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s all one big ocean. If a massive amount of contamination is dumped into the ocean on one side of the world, rest assured it will eventually make it’s way to the other. We saw this with physical rubble from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the same currents are bringing the invisible contaminants as well. Fish, especially salmon, must migrate through the radioactive plumes coming off Fukushima before being harvested on North American coasts. Some believe this represents an eventual health crisis, and that it’s no longer safe to eat fish from the Pacific Ocean
Radiation in U.S. Snow and Beach Sand
If you live in a landlocked state, you might think you’re safe from toxic fish and Fukushima fallout, but that’s not necessarily the case. Just days ago, snow falling in Missouri was found to contain double the normal radiation amount. No snow where you live? You’re not out of the clear yet. Early in the New Year, Infowars reported on a YouTube video that showed background radiation at a Coastside beach reaching over 150 micro-REM per hour. Health officials in San Mateo County confirmed the spike but remain ‘befuddled’ as to its cause.