Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wed Post #1: Fukushima’s radiation is approaching the West Coast

Yet another reason for offshore money not to be invested in Vancouver real estate comes with the latest scare about nuclear radiation.

In case you missed it yesterday, Bloomberg is reporting that radiation from the Tsunami damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has been "significantly undercounted." Of particular concern for us on the Wet Coast is that the radioactive plum of water from the damaged reactor will be hitting our shores, possibly as soon as April.

How dangerous is that plume (shown above in a computer generator model)?

At the moment, no one is sure.

So far only minute traces of radiation have been recorded in British Columbia waters. This will increase as contaminants disperse eastwards on Pacific currents. But scientists are quick to stress that even the peak measurements will be well within the limits set by safety authorities.

Notwithstanding those assurances, serious concerns are being raised and alarms bells are sounding in the eco system.

Back in December 2013, NBC reported on a mass dying of starfish on the West Coast. As NBC noted, "starfish are dying in record numbers."

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From the news clip:
Brian Williams, anchor: Environmental officials in California say there’s been another highly troubling report about what’s going on in the Pacific. Something is killing the starfish and they don’t know why. They have been dying in record numbers on the West Coast. [...] 
Pete Raimondi, marine biologist: It’s happened so rapidly that some species are just missing. [...] 
Miguel Almaguer, reporter: An epidemic affecting waters from Alaska to Southern California causing millions of starfish to fall apart and melt away. [...] Two species that used to thrive here have now vanished. [...] 
Raimondi: I’ve had probably 100 emails thus far saying, ‘Well, what about Fukushima, because of radiation?’ We haven’t ruled that out yet, but we’re clearly not ruling that in. 
Almaguer: The mysterious disease has now spread to at least 10 species of starfish and is threatening more every day.
On KRCB, Raimondi was interviewed on Nov. 21, 2013 and said:
There’s something about this outbreak that is very, very different [...] It’s always been associated with warm water in the past — an El Nino event. We’re not in an El Nino event. [...] There’s 2 things that are really bewildering. One, we aren’t in an El Nino event. The second thing is the spatial thing, from Alaska down to Orange County. It’s hard to think of a mechanism that is consistent across that whole area of geography.
Something is killing off our Starfish.  Is it the nuclear radiation from Fukushima? Or is it simply a coincidence?

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  1. Ah, the coloured blob map! There are few things more startling, less informative, and effective in scaring the bejeepers out of an increasingly irrational society. Choose some appropriately ominous colours and've successfully instigated a new fear, and no amount of subsequent facts or information will ever soothe it. As if Vancouver panties aren't already 'bunched' enough.....

  2. Sorry, suggesting that sea star wasting syndrome is connected with Fukishima radiation without a scrap of suggestive evidence is bad journalism. There are a lot of things going on in the ocean (acidification, temperature fluctuations, food chain disruption, etc.) and Fukishima is just one.

    1. You forgot simple bacterial or viral infections that every population deals with all the time (it's just sometimes worse and sometimes better.) Changes in predation, parasites or abundance of food sources etc.

      If anything, one should be able to compare radioisotope contents of moribund or recently deceased starfish to living ones. If there is a difference, then there is evidence for causation. Odds are there's at least one Zoology lab doing this research right now at some public institution.

      Sorry Whisperer, although your hypothesis is as valid as any other, it's rooted in far weaker biology than many others. The radiation dosage is in incredibly low and very slightly above background despite being "undercounted." Further, radiation is actually stupidly easy to detect at trace amounts thanks to the technology used in its study. If there was a spike in radioactive material concentration in the Pacific off the coast of Canada or the US, it would be detected very easily and reported on immediately in peer reviewed journals (mostly because it's a piss easy study to do with high impact factor.)