Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Compromised Oceans Mean Compromised People

Majia here: I'm a water person - I love the ocean, lakes, streams, etc. So, it seems obvious to me how radiation contamination of the world's oceans will ultimately compromise all life on earth.

I think that when people read about ocean contamination, their immediate reaction is concern over contaminated food, such as fish. And the evidence is increasingly clear that Fukushima is going to contaminate sea life significantly, and not just in Japan. 

Furthermore, the radioactive isotopes in sea life are going to be more concentrated in those who eat the sea life:

Excessive cesium found in 9 types of fish caught near Fukushima plant Sept. 19, Kyodo
[Excerpted] Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that excessive levels of radioactive cesium were detected in nine types of fish caught between Aug. 20 and Sept. 5 in the sea within a 20-kilometer range of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Cesium measuring as much as 1,350 becquerels per kilogram was found in greenling hauled 1 km off the coast of Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture on Sept. 5. The level of cesium was far higher than the 100 becquerels deemed by the Japanese government as safe for consumption.

The utility, which operates the crisis-hit nuclear plant, also said 540 becquerels and 390 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kg were detected respectively in rock fish and skate caught in the waters. [end excerpt]

Majia here: Enenews has another headline pointing to contamination of sea life:

Sickened Alaska seals concentrated where Fukushima radioactive plume made landfall after 3/11 (MAPS)


Majia here: There is growing evidence that the contamination of sea life from Fukushima extends to the US and Canadian pacific coastline:

Canopy-Forming Kelps as California’s Coastal Dosimeter: 131I from Damaged Japanese Reactor Measured in Macrocystis pyrifera Steven L. Manley and Christopher G. Lowe Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (7), pp 3731–3736 Publication Date (Web): March 6, 2012 (Article)

Majia here: Contamination could have occurred via atmospheric contamination from rain-outs and also from the ocean's currents, as these three studies suggest: 

Sulfate Aerosol as a Potential Transport Medium of Radiocesium from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Naoki Kaneyasu, Hideo Ohashi, Fumie Suzuki, Tomoaki Okuda, and Fumikazu Ikemori Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (11), pp 5720–5726 Publication Date (Web): April 25, 2012 (Article) 

Wet Deposition of Fission-Product Isotopes to North America from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Incident, March 2011 Gregory A. Wetherbee, David A. Gay, Timothy M. Debey, Christopher M.B. Lehmann, and Mark A. Nilles Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (5), pp 2574–2582 Publication Date (Web): February 22, 2012 (Article)

 Impacts of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants on Marine Radioactivity Ken Buesseler, Michio Aoyama, and Masao Fukasawa Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (23), pp 9931–9935 Publication Date (Web): October 20, 2011 (Article)                                                     
Majia here: What people ALSO need to realize is that the ocean is not simply a great big sink for contamination. The ocean is a major source of PRECIPITATION

Contamination in ocean waters can end up in precipitation.

Wikipedia provides a great visual from the USGS

Consider the transport of uranium bucky balls from Fukushima.

We know that uranium bucky balls were transmitted through the atmosphere from Fukushima. Some of those bucky balls no doubt came down in precipitation over land and ocean.

Many politicians and other nuclear advocates argue that ocean rain-outs pose no dangers to people.

I contend that is simply not correct. Let us look at buckyballs and consider their transport, impact on ocean, and uptake in the water cycle.

How sea water could corrode nuclear fuel. UC Davis Press Release. Jan 26, 2012:

[Excerpted] Uranium in nuclear fuel rods is in a chemical form that is “pretty insoluble” in water, Navrotsky said, unless the uranium is oxidized to uranium-VI — a process that can be facilitated when radiation converts water into peroxide, a powerful oxidizing agent.

Peter Burns, professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of the new paper, had previously made spherical uranium peroxide clusters, rather like carbon “buckyballs,” that can dissolve or exist as solids.

In the new paper, the researchers show that in the presence of alkali metal ions such as sodium — for example, in seawater — these clusters are stable enough to persist in solution or as small particles even when the oxidizing agent is removed.
In other words, these clusters could form on the surface of a fuel rod exposed to seawater and then be transported away, surviving in the environment for months or years before reverting to more common forms of uranium, without peroxide,  and settling to the bottom of the ocean.  

Majia here: Except,  the uranium that ends up in the ocean may not necessarily "settle" at the bottom. 

Lead doesn't necessarily settle, so I suspect that uranium may not either. 

Read the following discussion of the transport of heavy metals via the water cycle and learn how lead in the ocean ends up in precipitation. (Radioactive lead has already been detected in Japan and sourced to Fukushima).

Consider potential implications for uranium and plutonium.

GESAMP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection

Pollution in the open ocean: A review of assessments and related studies. November 2009.

Page 20 section 3.2 Atmospheric Inputs 3.2.1 General Introduction

“Gaseous and particulate substances present in the atmosphere can deposit and/or exchange directly on the ocean surface, and they can also be incorporated in precipitation

3.2.2 Heavy Metals: Introduction
“A number of heavy metals are transported in the atmosphere from the continents to open ocean regions..." [end quote]

[paraphrasing] research on heavy metals has focused on mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel and cooper…

“anthropogenic sources dominate for those observed in the remote marine atmosphere, particularly in the Northern hemisphere.” [end quote] 

[paraphrasing] actual research is relatively sparse and discussion moves to what little exists about specific metals

Lead: “There is clear evidence that human activities have severely altered the atmospheric cycling of mercury.” (p. 21) 

“Studies suggest that the concentrations of dissolved gaseous mercury are often supersaturated in surface waters, resulting in a significant flux of elemental mercury to the atmosphere in those regions (Fitzgerald et al 2007). Indeed, there is evidence that the fluxes of mercury from the ocean to the atmosphere globally are similar to the level of anthropogenic emissions” (p. 22)

Majia here: To repeat: "dissolved gaseous mercury are often supersaturated in surface waters, resulting in a significant flux of elemental mercury to the atmosphere in those regions." 


Radiation contamination - i.e., radioactive isotopes such as uranium - ending up in land-based flora and fauna through the water cycle WILL bio-magnify up the food chain:

[Excerpted Wikipedia] "Heavy metals such as uranium bio-magnify in the food chain. Each successive step up the food chain causes a stepwise concentration of pollutants such as heavy metals (e.g. mercury) and persistent organic pollutants such as DDT. This is known as biomagnification, which is occasionally used interchangeably with bioaccumulation."
(see Wikipedia; also see

A compromised ocean is going to compromise humanity, which is the species at the pinnacle of the chain of bio-accumulation.

1 comment:

  1. Check out Linus Pauling's article on carbon-14.

    This is a gas which dissolves in ocean water and is rereleased into the atmosphere, becoming incorporated into the food chain directly. It is formed when neutrons from criticality in Fuku corium react with nitrogen in the soil.