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Contaminated water from Fukushima

  1. Sep 22, 2013 #1
    Hey guys,
    Since the skepticism and debunking forum is gone, I wasn't sure where to put this.

    To be honest, reading this, it felt like I was reading a moon landing hoax website, that I should just dismiss it, but I do not understand enough about the events and the repercussions to be able form an opinion that I feel is valid.

    I would greatly appreciate it if someone could shed some light on this for me.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2013 #2
    First of all, the article reads like a bad conspiracy novel:

    While that's not really a logical point to make in response to this specific issue, it is indicative of the type of "journalism" we're dealing with--namely alarm-ism. The one source he quotes, Harvey Wasserman, identifies himself as an advocate of renewable energy, so we know where his allegiance lies.

    To be fair, Wasserman being an advocate of renewable energy doesn't itself discredit his claims, but it shows that he's biased from the outset, and he doesn't help himself by not substantiating what he's saying. The other sources the author claims to have gotten information from are sketchy at best--with the exception of NBC. Moreover, other than the Wasserman quotes, he doesn't say what information came from where.

    Proving the above by providing a link would have really helped his cause. I'm not saying it isn't true, as I don't have the time to look into it myself, but I get the feeling he's betting on his readers being too lazy to do their own research as to the veracity of his claims, or at least to get some context for the information given.

    Finally, neither he nor his sources ever actually explain why it's so bad. That is, a scientific explanation for why these levels of radiation--if they really are as high as he says--are so dangerous--if they really are--is never given. Even some of the most blatantly alarmist articles I've read have used scientific facts, however rickety the context was. Instead, the reader is just supposed to take his (or Wasserman's) word for it, which is really the fatal flaw; he has put the burden of proof on his own shoulders, and he's collapsing under its weight. He doesn't really care, though, as I'm sure he's gotten a lot of hits.

    EDIT: I should note that I don't have the credentials to scientifically debunk this, but I do fancy myself a critical thinker, so that is what I'm doing in this response.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  4. Sep 23, 2013 #3
    He does not even list a single source for his information that isn't another news source. He pulls information from another journalist who is completely biased against nuclear energy. This article should not be treated as valid information and that is not a good website to look at for news.

    Here's some real information about leaks at Fukishima:


  5. Sep 23, 2013 #4
    Thanks for the links guys, very reasonable arguments presented. I appreciate the help

  6. Sep 23, 2013 #5
    I wouldn't even bother reading the article.

    There are a few simple facts with which you can judge the level of danger from Fukushima water.

    Natural seawater contains many natural radioactive elements. The principal one is K-40. Its activity in seawater is about 15 kiloBq/ton (slightly varies proportionally to salinity). Its decay energy is slightly higher than Cs-137's decay energy.

    The largest release from Fukushima is Cs-137. (Next is Sr-90 and it's about an order of magnitude smaller, other isotopes are smaller still).

    Even the most pessimistic models of Pacific water mixing say that added Cs-137 will add 30 Bq/ton with it to seawater's activity.

    Cs is chemically similar to K. It is *not* preferentially absorbed by human body compared to K.

    Now compare 15000 Bq/ton with 30 Bq/ton. By how many % Cs-137 will raise seawater's already existing radioactivity? By 0.2% - which is below natural seawater's variability in salinity!
  7. Sep 24, 2013 #6
    ^^We don't consume seawater we consume the biological life living inside of it. Bioaccumulation is the real concern.
  8. Sep 24, 2013 #7
    Let me try it again:

    Cs is chemically similar to K. It is *not* preferentially absorbed compared to K.

    Fish accumulates K-40 and Cs-137 to approximately the same degree.
  9. Sep 24, 2013 #8
  10. Sep 24, 2013 #9


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    The current situation at Fukushima, imho is gradually becoming a mortal infection which will kill the nuclear industry.
    There is no truthful data anywhere. TEPCO releases reports on cesium activity, but strontium is never mentioned. The Japanese government bloviates, but adds neither resources nor coherent plans.
    Asking a utility, even a large one such as TEPCO, to manage a big nuclear accident is just silly. They have no clue, either technically or managerially. So the inability/unwillingness of the world's nuclear industry to come up with an initiative that would end the current Keystone Kops routine that is the Fukushima accident response discredits the entire sector. In an environment where verifiable truth is absent, absurd reports and simply invented studies will flourish. Eventually, the dopes in charge of communications at TEPCO and the various nuclear agencies will understand that, but by that time, their jobs will be deservedly gone as well.
    Investors should short nuclear, it is too stupid to survive, based on the evidence to date.
    None of the above is to detract from the excellent work done by the technicians and workers on the job at Fukushima. The scale of the work and the quality are just stunning, but imho the absence of any coherent management makes their efforts vain.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  11. Sep 25, 2013 #10
    Thanks for all the material to study. I appreciate the education. Starting to understand that the picture was much bigger than I initially thought.
  12. Oct 2, 2013 #11
  13. Oct 2, 2013 #12
  14. Oct 2, 2013 #13

    With the second picture I was trying to point out that such a behaviour of the debris it is quite tendentious, look at the picture of March 2014, it looks like two years after and an entire ocean away the debris are going to meet again just in front of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
    Weird, maybe the debris found the way to reduce the entropy :)
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
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