Debunking Fukushima: Your Radiation Roundup

Fukushima continues to dominate the ocean news cycle, and while no one is denying that it is a real and ongoing tragedy, the woo is strong in the Fukushima fear-mongering community. Fortunately, the scientists are out in force, debunking the bunk and cutting through the crap to keep you informed. Here is a handy collection of detailed links, from trusted source, tackling some of the most egregious pseudoscience coming out of Fukushima.

Southern Fried Science

Deep Sea News

Skeptoid

If you know of any other good articles debunking Fukushima fear-mongering, please leave them in the comments below.

If you feel the need to accuse any of the authors above of being shills for Big Nuclear, The Government, any Secret Board of Shadowy Figures, Tepco, or any combination thereof, I have an experiment for you: This website is ad free and run entirely by volunteers. Head on over the our “Support Southern Fried Science Page” and make a donation help to keep us running. Maybe, if you donate enough, we’ll start shilling for you (disclaimer: we won’t, but we will continue to produce high quality marine science and conservation articles from a diversity of voices).

On a serious note, we don’t do this Fukushima debunking for fun. We certainly don’t enjoy the hate mail, death threats, and personal insults that crop up every time someone tries to have a serious, scientifically-literate, discussion about the real and imagined consequences of the Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Disaster. As I said in the closing paragraph of the 28 Fallacies post, getting the science right matters:

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an unparalleled environmental catastrophe and we will be seeing fallout from it for years to come. I honestly cannot think of any reason to fabricate a bunch of paranoid talking points to make it seem worse. Thousands of people were displaced from their home, many of them permanently. Contaminated waste was, and still is, being dumped into the water surround the plant. The energy infrastructure of an entire nation was compromised. Do we really need to blame Fukushima on a viral outbreak in British Columbia, too?

To put things in perspective, the Fukushima disaster released approximately one ten-thousandth of the total radiation produce by the world’s coal power plants annually. That number will either be reassuring or terrifying, but, really, it should be both.

There is another reason why articles like this are so compelling, particularly to those in rich, developed countries. It gives us the ability to blame the “foreign other” for our own environmental crises. It’s not our fault that salmon stocks are collapsing, it’s the Japanese! We aren’t the ones driving polar bears and marine mammal moralities, Fukushima did it! The West Coast of the United States is being fried. It’s being fried by over-fishing, agricultural run-off, runaway development, and a host of other issues, but it’s not being fried by Fukushima, and articles that promote that fallacious argument are distracting us from the dominant causes of environmental degradation on our coasts: Us.

  1. Sir, Thank you for the debunking of the nuclear scare from Fukushima, the “Lucky Land”.

    However, be careful you do not go overboard with your denials. I am not a nuclear engineer, but as a research engineer tested the safety components of those same GE Mark I BWR’s, and came to know them. In fact, we were doing those tests as Three Mile Island II was melting down. I also worked on the manual to protect American Industry from the effects of nuclear weapons, and wound up as Senior Engineer in Technical Services for Pacific Gas & Electric. I am no rube or extremist.

    I suggest you look into the state of the Corium, the astonishing amount of nuclear material, the distance between that and the water table, look into the inability of the Japanese to admit error, and you will see terrible possibilities. Yes, they are only possibilities, but ones we cannot allow. Do you have any idea of the massive amounts of nuclides which have been released so far? Do you really expect perfect dilution of radiation in the seas, without currents and bioaccumulation keeping the concentrations high?

    There is no beta or gamma radiation present on the coast by the Bay area, save those from natural seeps, apparently, and my own equipment says the same thing. But I watched in 1979 as Metropolitan Edison and the nuclear industry lied continually for weeks about the disaster in TMI II. I trust the engineers, I do NOT trust any manager or supervisor or businessman or politician.

    Thanks again, but do not allow yourself to be used by any side.

  2. Thanks for all of this information. I do think it did take misinformation and fear mongering to get the facts out to the people. Nothing like some bad science to get good scientists writing articles!

  3. It is an important work you have done. But, as far as I understand, the article you refer to in your quotation ” the Fukushima disaster released approximately one ten-thousandth of the total radiation produce by the world’s coal power plants annually” is talking about the amount of radioactive TRITIUM that has been released, not the total amount radioactivity. It is extremely important that, when doing a debunking like this, all figures are correct. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • If they are just talking about the ongoing leaks, mostly tritium, that is about 1/1500th of the initial release. So, multiply by 1500 and divide by 10,000 and you get 0.15. And we are talking annually for coal and 3 years for Fukushima, so divide by 3. That would mean that coal plants produce 20 times more radiation than Fukushima, when averaged over the last 3 years. And most of the Fukushima radiation is wasted over the ocean, while coal plants are near cities. Let’s see, 6,000 miles of ocean or 10 miles west of you. Which do you prefer?

  4. Please have a read of “Better and safer than fire” – On Line Opinion – 6/1/2014 http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=15888
    and Part 2 ” Nuclear radiation is relatively harmless” – On Line Opinion – 8/1/2014 http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=15900
    All known and predicted in readable form many years ago. Please think and read the book “Radiation and Reason: the impact of science on a culture of fear” publ in 2009 http://www.radiationandreason.com
    Wade Allison, Oxford Univ