The West Coast to Receive Dangerous Levels of Fukushima... Misinformation

This morning, many news sources, probably following the Drudge Report, picked up on a RT.com article which grossly and inaccurately portrayed an only mildly inaccurate environmentalresearchweb article about some NOAA researchers modeling potential ocean paths for elements from Japan's Fukushima.


The statements like “incredibly contaminated ocean waters could be reaching the West Coast of the US in a matter of only five years, and the toxicity of those waves could eventually be worse than what was seen in Japan.” are patently false. 

In fact, if you click on the environmentalresearchweb article referenced by the RT article (of course, not linked to by RT, for fear people actually read it) it says that:

“the level of radioactivity reaching the US will be much lower than that released by the Fukushima plant.” And that

“While this may sound alarming, these levels are still lower than those permitted for drinking water,” said Böning.” 

The levels for drinking water are extremely low, far below what would cause health problems, for obvious reasons.  California is far more in danger of the levels of Cesium 137 used in drilling fluids right on their shoreline than Fukushima radiation transported and diluted and decayed over 5 years.

The stress caused by the misinformation has worse health effects.  The coal that people will opt to replace nuclear will have far, far worse health and environmental effects (see Germany and Japan and coal waste).

But then again, maybe if enough of the Californians get scared enough, we could pick up some cheap oceanfront property, so here's hoping it either stops altogether or gets extreme!

Maybe Charlie's house will finally be affordable to civilians without Ph.D.s in Astrophysics.




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3 comments

  1. first and foremost that's not misinformation, it's DISinformation. The difference is: Misinformation is info that's spread by people who have no clue that it's false. Disinformation, on the otherhand, is the spreading of information the spreader KNOWS to be false, with the premeditated intent of misleading people. Botched stats where someone got two numbers mixed up with each other? Misinformation. Smear-campaigns that just make up fake stats out of thin air? That's Disinformation with a capital D.

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  2. Hi,

    I am trying to get a grip on the science regarding Fukushima. What am I to make of this article: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120812a2.html?fb_ref=article_japantimes

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    Replies
    1. Hi Captaincassowary,

      Thanks for the heads up and sorry for the delayed response. You were one of the first to notice this news story, which got play all over different outlets and still is getting more press.

      I need to read more about the methods of the study in order to comment on its validity.

      However, assuming it was done perfectly, the need for perspective is in order. First of all, many things can cause mutations- for instance pesticides are wiping out frog populations all over the world in a dramatic fashion (frogs with body parts for both sexes etc).

      Second, sadly, disasters have consequences. We know thousands and thousands of people died in the tsunami and earthquakes. It sounds like this is a particularly sensitive species. We need to remember that this is not the effect on all animals and certainly not humans, as mentioned at the end of the article.

      Third, we need to remember the studies that do not get as much news play like where mice are fed uranium dust live longer than those not fed it, or that low levels of radiation may increase dna repair and other actually positive effects.

      Last, that BY FAR, the number of slightly mutated butterflies possibly due to Fukushima pales in comparison to the effects of coal radiation (yes, coal releases more radiation than nuclear plants) and pollution around the world on our oceans and every species of animal, insects, and humans.

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