Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Engineering Consent By Framing

I've found that the mass media often seek to FRAME public perceptions of an issue in the headline. The framing function is illustrated in this headline addressing plans in Japan to dump radioactive water into the ocean.

Most of the water that is being proposed for dumping is contaminated with tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that cannot be filtered from water. What I find problematic in the framing of the headline is the implicit argument that public fears are irrational, while science is represented as unified entirely behind the dumping:

AP (2017, Nov 25). Risky stalemate as science battles human fears at Fukushima. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711250021.html

This headline and the story beneath drive me crazy in so many ways. Human fears are represented as pitted against scientific certainty. However, there is NO scientific consensus that dumping tritium in the ocean is "safe." Moreover, tritium is hardly the only isotope that has ended up in vast quantities in the ocean as there is no containment of melted fuel in the basements of the fractured reactor buildings.

Tritium bioaccumulates in phytoplankton (which is composed of algae, protists and cyanobacteria) and has been consequently evaluated as posing a persistent and toxic contaminant with intergenerational effects:
Jaeschke, B. C., & Bradshaw, C. (2013). Bioaccumulation of tritiated water in phytoplankton and trophic transfer of organically bound tritium to the blue mussel, mytilus edulis. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 115, 28-33. 
Strontium is also highly bio-available and bioaccumulates in vertebrate skeletal structures. The particular dangers posed by strontium were highlighted in Project Sunshine, mentioned earlier in this chapter. The actinides are also particularly genotoxic. Research conducted by Fisher, Bjerregaard and Fowler found that Plutonium, Americium, and Californium concentrate readily in marine plankton and could be transported up the marine food web, as well as being deposited on the ocean bottom:
Nicholas S. Fisher, Poul Bjerregaard and Scott W. Fowler (1983). Interactions of Marine Plankton with Transuranic Elements. 1. Biokinetics of Neptunium, Plutonium, Americium, and Californium in Phytoplankton. Limnology and Oceanography, 28(3) (May, 1983), pp. 432-447 Published by: American Society of Limnology and Oceanography. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2835825. 445. 
TEPCO and the Japanese government feel they have no choice but to dump contaminated water because they are running out of storage and storing highly radioactive water in tanks risks leaks, "breaking radiation" (as X-rays are generated) and even explosions.

The contaminated water situation at Fukushima is UNPRECEDENTED and poses significant RISKS to the eco-sphere. Below find more information about the disaster excerpted from my book Crisis Communication, Liberal Democracy and Ecological Sustainability

In 2013, Prime Minister Abe promised the government would take “firm measures” to address water contamination at Fukushima Daiichi.[i] Two years later in 2015, TEPCO still injected hundreds of tons of water into demolished reactor buildings 1-4 to cool uncontained melted fuel.[ii]  [Today TEPCO admits to dumping up to 150 tons of water daily to cool fuel.]

TEPCO simultaneously pumps hundreds of tons of contaminated water out from the ruined reactor buildings, but its efforts to keep up with water saturation have been stymied by the sheer volume of ground water inundating the site, largely from an underground river running at about 1,000 tons daily, with TEPCO announcing that approximately 400 tons of that penetrates reactor buildings 1 – 4. [iii]

Water saturation from the underground river and TEPCO’s injections contribute to ground liquefaction, which poses direct risks to the reactor buildings and common spent fuel pool. Contaminated ground water is also flowing into the ocean.[iv]

In February of 2015, TEPCO admitted that radioactive water from unit 2 had been flowing unfiltered into the ocean since May 2014.[v] Local fisherman who had given consent for TEPCO to dump uncontaminated ground water were outraged, but Yuji Moriyama, a TEPCO spokesman stated “the utility did not disclose the information because there is no evidence of environmental impact.”

The water contained 29,400 Becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter and an additional 52,000 Becquerels of beta-emitting radionuclides, such as Strontium-90.

Strontium levels in sea and ground water may actually rise over time, if the conditions modeled in two German risk studies apply to Fukushima. The “German Risk Study, Phase B” found that a core meltdown accident could result in complete failures of all structural containment, causing melted fuel to exit the reactor foundation within five days and that ground water leaching would occur even in the absence of a full melt-through situation.[vi]

A second German risk analysis, “Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure after Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,” found that even in the event of an intact building foundation, passing groundwater would be in direct contact with fuel, causing leaching of fission products. [vii]

The study predicted concentrations of Strontium-90 in river water would spike relatively suddenly, but maintain extraordinarily high levels of contamination for years, with “the highest radionuclide concentration of approx. 1010 Bq/m3 is reached by Sr-90 after some 5000 days.” The study’s experimental conditions are roughly similar to Daiichi’s site conditions, including groundwater emptying into an adjacent river, whereas Daiichi is physically situated above an underground river emptying into the sea.

Ground water contamination has also been rising steadily at the Daiichi site, especially since the summer of 2013.[viii] TEPCO reported that samples from the well between the ocean and unit 1 measuring a record 5 million Becquerels per liter of radioactive Strontium-90 alone in July 2013.[ix]

In January 27, 2015, TEPCO measured 31,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 in boring well nearest unit 2, a level which was more than 10 percent more than reported in December of 2014.[x] By February of 2015, TEPCO was reporting even higher levels of Strontium-90 in the same location, with the highest sample measured at 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90.[xi] The spiking strontium levels are consistent with the predictions of the German melt-through scenario.

TEPCO has also detected increased radionuclide contamination in the Fukushima port. On June 19, 2015 TEPCO’s reported that it had detected Strontium-90 measuring 1,000,000 Bq/m3 in two locations in Fukushima Daiichi’s port located near the water intake for reactors 3 and 4, exceeding the previous reported high of 700,000 Bq/m3.[xii] The highest Strontium level measured in Fukushima’s port jumped still more in data reported in July 17, 2015 to 1,500,000 Bq/m3.[xiii]


Where do all the radionuclides go after reaching the ocean? They are either bioaccumulated by ocean flora and fauna, settle as sediment, or enter the hydrological cycle through evaporation (see my post Majia's Blog: Compromised Oceans Mean Compromised People).


[i] Mari Yamaguchi AP “Japanese government to help halt nuke leak,” The Spokesman (August 8, 2013). Retrieved 4 May 2014: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/aug/08/japanese-government-to-help-halt-nuke-leak/.

[ii] R. Yoshida (21 May 2013) ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head above Tainted Water’, Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/21/reference/fukushima-no-1-cant-keep-its-head-above-tainted-water/#.UZpke8oQNX9, date accessed 21 May 2013.

[iii] Nagata, K. (2013, August 20). TEPCO yet to track groundwater paths. Liquefaction threat adds to Fukushima ills. The Japan Times. Available http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/20/national/tepco-yet-to-track-groundwater-paths/#.U2XHpF7K3yi

[iv] Nagata, K. (2014, March 6). Solving Fukushima water problem a long, hard slog. The Japan Times. Available http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/06/national/solving-fukushima-water-problem-a-long-hard-slog/#.U2XIE17K3yh

[v] Fisheries ‘shocked’ at silence over water leak at wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant,” Japan times (February 25, 2015) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/25/national/tepco-admits-failed-disclose-cesium-tainted-water-leaks-since-april/#.VPOfiOHWyDl

[vi] Gesellschaft fur Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) Deutsche Risikikostudie Kernkraftwerke, Phase B Report GRS-89 cited in Bayer, A., Al-Omari, I., & Tromm, W. (1989). Dispersion of radionuclides and radiation exposure after leaching by groundwater of a solidified core-concrete (No. KFK-4512). Available http://www.irpa.net/irpa8/cdrom/VOL.1/M1_97.PDF.

[vii] Bayer, A., Al-Omari, I., & Tromm, W. (1989). Dispersion of radionuclides and radiation exposure after leaching by groundwater of a solidified core-concrete (No. KFK-4512). Available http://www.irpa.net/irpa8/cdrom/VOL.1/M1_97.PDF

[viii] “TEPCO Announced Record Cesium Level Found in Groundwater Beneath Fukushima Levee” The Asahi Shimbun (February 14, 2014): http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402140041). The article said that cesium found in groundwater under a coastal levee near unit 1 spiked from 76,000 Becquerels per liter on February 12, 2014 to 130,000 Becquerels per liter on February 13, reaching the highest level of cesium ever detected at that location.

[ix] Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July. (2014, February 7). The Japan Times. Available http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/07/national/record-strontium-90-level-in-fukushima-groundwater-sample-last-july/#.U2XIw17K3yh.

[x] Lori Mochizuki, “31,000,000 Bqm3 Strontium 90 Measured Nearest Boring Well Reactor 2,” Fukushima Diary (January 2015) http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/01/31000000-bqm3-strontium-90-measured-nearest-boring-well-reactor-2). TEPCO document available: http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15012701-j.pdf

[xi] Lori Mochizuki (Fukushima Diary 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 measured from groundwater of Reactor 2 seaside).

[xii] Lori Mochizuki, “1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Sr-90 detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / Highest in recorded history,” Fukushima Diary (June 20, 2015) http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/06/1000000-bqm3-of-sr-90-detected-in-seawater-of-fukushima-plant-port-highest-in-recorded-history/ and TEPCO document http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15061901-j.pdf.

[xiii] Lori Mochizuki, “Highest Strontium-90 density detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / 1,500,000 Bq/m3,” Fukushima Dairy (July 18, 2015). http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/07/highest-strontium-90-density-detected-in-seawater-of-fukushima-plant-port-1500000-bqm3/ TEPCO document available here: http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15071701-j.pdf

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  1. Testimony of a mother who evacuated from Tokyo nuclear-news.net/2017/11/28/tes…
    10:20 AM - 28 Nov 2017
    Testimony of a mother who evacuated from Tokyo
    Listen to her testimony (in English). She evacuated from Tokyo to Kobe in west Japan to protect her daughter. The contamination does not stop at the Fukushima department border. Tokyo is also contaminated

    Trump has started nuclear weapon testing in Nevada and Idaho again

    There are very few places in the United States that are not contaminated with nuclear waste.

    If a major earthquake hits s california, think what is could do the the nuclear wate on the beach at San Onofre. Think what it could do at Diablo.

  2. Average life expectancy of a dog at chernobyl 30 years after accident is 2 years. People going there and rescuing dogs. Lichen is pushing up cesium from the ground. It is still contaminating wild boars in europe and, reindeer in Sweden.

  3. Putin, Trump, Abe. The three most evil creeps, that have ever existed. They double and triple down on nuclear reactors, more nuclear waste, and more nuclear armament, in spite of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

  4. America was never great. It was founded by elitist mason slave owners. Grew by genocide and oppression of colored people and the poor. It is a radioactive and chemical cesspool. Has been for 60 years. There was so much tetraethyl lead and shit in the air till 1993 it made kid turn into violent thugs. There is still so much polonium, other daughter products, radium, arsenic, organics in the air in big cities , from people burning fossil fuels en masse, people can barely think straight.

  5. How ironic. Japanese and Causasian are the genetically inferior ethnicity now. Look at where all the nuclear reactors, chemical plants, and radioactive waste, in the world are now.


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