Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stranded Sea Lions in Southern California and Fukushima Fallout



Recent research findings suggest Fukushima radioisotopes can be found widely in the ocean. A study published in Environmental Science Technology in 2012 reported that radiostrontium levels in surface seawater remain elevated and were in some areas comparable, to or even higher, than those measured for cesium 137 in December of 2011.[i] The researchers concluded that the total amount of Strontium 90 released into the marine environment could reach approximately 1 PBq. Another study found cesium-134 deposits in marine snow gathered 2000 kilometers away from the plant at depths of 5000 meters measuring 1,200 Bq/kg.
            Contamination has been detected as far away as U.S. coastal waters in Southern California.A third study, focusing on radioiodine in U.S. coastal kelp, reported that a high of 40 MBq 131I , or 40,000,000 Bq/kg of Iodine-131 had been detected in one bed of Macrocystis pyrifera off the coast of Southern California in the summer of 2011.[ii] The researchers of the kelp study described their findings in a local Long Beach media interview:
“Radioactivity is taken up by the kelp and anything that feeds on the kelp will be exposed to this also,” [California State University, Long Beach marine biology professors Steven L. Manley] continued. “Even though we detected low levels, it still got into the environment and we don’t know anything about the other radioisotopes like cesium 137, which stays around much longer than iodine. In fact, the values that we reported for iodine probably underestimate what was probably in there. It could be two to three times more because we were just sampling the surface tissue; the biomass estimates were based on canopy tissue and a lot of kelp biomass is underneath. So, probably two or three times more was in the tissue at its height. Then it enters the coastal food web and gets dispersed over a variety of organisms. I would assume it’s there. It’s not a good thing, but whether it actually has a measureable [sic] detrimental effect is beyond my expertise.” [iii]
Kelp is at the bottom of the food chain. The radioisotopes in kelp will biomagnify up the food chain.
Predicting long term environmental and health effects is complicated by uncertainties about the “fallout” levels of various radioisotopes. How long will the radioisotopes inflict damage on the environment? A study modeling dilution declines of Cesium-137 published in Environmental Research Letters predicted that after seven years the “total peak radioactivity levels would still be about twice the pre-Fukushima values” off the coastal waters of North America[iv]
Given these findings, it is hard to discount the potential role of radionuclides in producing the "Wave of Stranded Sea Lions" which "Baffles Southern California." The article was reported in The Wall Street Journal (2/13/2013) p. A3. The Marine Mammal Care Center of San Pedro California has admitted 92 malnourished sea lions since the start of January. Ordinarily it admits 10-12. 
This is not the first incident of sickened seals. Enenews reported some time back that sickened seals were being found in Alaska. These seals were missing fur and had sores on their bodies. They were being tested but the test results were never disclosed publicly.
Sickened Alaska seals concentrated where Fukushima radioactive plume made landfall after 3/11 (MAPS)' http://enenews.com/alaskan-seal-concentrated-fukushima-radioactive-plume-made-landfall-after-311-maps/comment-page-1#comment-330760

Fukushima radiation is IN THE PACIFIC ocean and contaminated kelp in Southern Ca. Kelp is one base of the Pacific, coastal food chain. The contaminated food chain is no doubt compromising the immune systems of animals that depend upon it. Its hard to know whether the seals have been sickened directly by the ingestion of radioisotopes or whether they have been weakened to the point where they are highly susceptible to opportunist viruses and bacteria.
It is clear to me that Fukushima is going to have absolutely catastrophic effects on the Pacific eco-system in all impacted areas.
 


[i]           P. Povinec, K. Hirose, and M. Aoyama (18 September 2012) ‘Radiostrontium in the Western North Pacific: Characteristics, Behavior, and the Fukushima Impact, Environmental Science & Technology, 46.18, 10356–10363.
[ii]           S. Manley and C. Lowe (6 March 2012) ‘Canopy-Forming Kelps as California’s Coastal Dosimeter: 131I from Damaged Japanese Reactor Measured in Macrocystis Pyrifera’, Environmental Science & Technology, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es203598r?journalCode=esthag.
[iv]          E. Behrens, F. Schwarzkopf, J. Lübbecke,  and C. Böning (2012) ‘Model Simulations on the Long-Term Dispersal of 137Cs Released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima’,  Environ. Res. Lett., 7.3, http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/3/034004/.

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