Fukushima radiation found in California milk, fruit, vegetables

May 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Toxic Spills


Commentary by Steven Hoffman

As the crippled reactors in Japan continue to emit radiation into the environment, the risk grows that it will appear in our food. Radiation has already been detected in trace amounts in milk across the U.S., and in strawberries, kale and other vegetables in California.

“The Swiss government Wednesday decided to exit nuclear energy, phasing out the country’s existing nuclear plants and seeking alternative energy sources to meet Switzerland’s energy needs, following widespread security concerns in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.”  – Dow Jones, May 25, 2011

“We believe we can show those countries who decide to abandon nuclear power—or not start using it—how it is possible to achieve growth, creating jobs and economic prosperity while shifting the energy supply toward renewable energies.”  – Chancellor Angela Merkel when announcing on May 30 that Germany would abandon nuclear power by 2022.

Nuclear energy is clean…until it isn’t.

The emerging reality of the ongoing nuclear reactor crisis in Fukushima, Japan—now in its third month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami caused nuclear explosions at the plant 150 miles north of Tokyo—is that it is not under control at all. Three of the six reactors are in meltdown. The crippled reactors are acting like a huge dirty bomb, emitting significant quantities of radioactive isotopes that are, in fact, contaminating our air, water, soil and food in a steady stream that may continue for a long time.

And it’s not just affecting Japan, though they’re certainly getting the worst of it. Since the accident on March 12, radioactive fallout from Fukushima has been spreading to the U.S. and across the northern hemisphere. Elevated levels of radiation caused by the meltdowns in Japan have been detected in drinking water across the country, in rainwater, in soil, and in food grown on U.S. farms.

The mainstream media is not really reporting on this. Since the initial weeks of the accident, there has been a disturbing silence. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the utility that owns and operates the reactors, and the government of Japan have handled public relations around this monumental disaster about as well as BP handled the Gulf oil spill last summer, and they are losing credibility fast. The radiation has leaked much faster than TEPCO’s disclosure of information related to the crisis; it’s only now that we know that three of the six reactors at the plant are in full meltdown. One of the meltdowns occurred within hours of the accident on March 12, but was not revealed until May 15, more than two months later.

Crisis, What Crisis?

In announcing the news, TEPCO admitted that it did not want the public to know the extent of the accident early on to avoid panic. They continue to downplay the time it will take to get the reactors under control and the threat this unprecedented crisis presents to our food, health and environment. While TEPCO has given a time estimate of six to nine months to control the reactors, on May 29 a senior TEPCO official admitted that it may be impossible to stabilize the crippled plant by the beginning of 2012. One U.S. official, John Kelly, deputy assistant secretary for nuclear reactor technologies at the U.S. Energy Department, told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late May that the Fukushima reactors are still in grave danger and may continue to vent radioactive steam for a year or more, according to the Washington Post.

With the reactors in meltdown, TEPCO employees are racing to avoid a potential “China Syndrome” as superhot nuclear fuel melts down through holes burned into the steel and concrete containment vessels into the earth, thus liberating it into the environment.

Additionally, highly toxic radioactive iodine, cesium, strontium, plutonium and other toxic man-made radionuclides have leaked unabated since March 12 into the ocean and atmosphere. The radiation is contaminating large areas of Japan. Monitoring the ocean around the Fukushima plant, Greenpeace reported on May 26 that the contamination is spreading over a wide area and accumulating in sea life, rather than simply dispersing like the Japanese authorities claimed would happen.

Also, radiation continues to blow in a steady stream across the Pacific Ocean toward North America, following the course of the jet stream in the atmosphere, and major currents in the ocean that flow from Japan to America. It took less than a month for radioactive iodine and cesium from the Fukushima nuclear accident to first show up in U.S. milk, and it continues to be detected in trace amounts in milk produced in California, one of the only states conducting any kind of testing for radiation in food.

– Next page: Independent Tests Indicate Radiation Is Entering the U.S. Food Chain

More on nuclear power:

Article source: http://redgreenandblue.org/2011/06/01/fukushima-radiation-found-in-california-milk-fruit-vegetables/

Serious Marine Radiation Contamination Found off Fukushima: Greenpeace

May 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Toxic Spills, Water Quality

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Greenpeace today slammed the Japanese authorities’”continued inadequate response” to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, after new data from its radiation monitoring showed seaweed radiation levels 50 times higher than official limits, raising serious concerns about continued long-term risks to people and the environment from contaminated seawater.

In a statement issued today, Greenpeace said that earlier this month, its radiation monitoring teams on shore, and on board the international environmental organisation’s flagship Rainbow Warrior, collected samples of marine life including fish, shellfish and seaweed outside Japan’s 12-mile territorial waters and along the Fukushima coast. Detailed analysis by accredited laboratories in France (ACRO) and Belgium (SCK CEN) found high levels of radioactive iodine contamination and significantly high levels of radioactive caesium in the samples.

In contrast, Japanese authorities claim that radioactivity is being dispersed or diluted and are undertaking only limited marine radiation monitoring. Path of radioactive water leak at Japan plant unclear, and “radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area,” according to the Japanese government.

“Our data show that significant amounts of contamination continue to spread over great distances from the Fukushima nuclear plant”, said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace Radiation Expert. “Despite what the authorities are claiming, radioactive hazards are not decreasing through dilution or dispersion of materials, but the radioactivity is instead accumulating in marine life. The concentration of radioactive iodine we found in seaweed is particularly concerning, as it tells us how far contamination is spreading along the coast, and because several species of seaweed are widely eaten in Japan.

“Japan’s government is mistaken in assuming that an absence of data means there is no problem. This complacency must end now, and instead mount a comprehensive and continuous monitoring program of the marine environment along the Fukushima coast, along with full disclosure of all information about both past and ongoing releases of contaminated water.”

Most fish and shellfish sampled by Greenpeace were found to contain levels of radioactivity above legal limits for food contamination. This is just one of the multiple, chronic sources of radiation exposure to people living in the greater Fukushima area. In April, the authorities raised regulatory limits for levels of radiation exposure twentyfold to 20 milliSievert per year for all people – including children.

Greenpeace has criticised this controversial revision of regulatory standards, saying it only accounts for sources of external exposure – radioactive materials can also be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Any increased exposure consequently also increases the risk of developing cancer and other radiation-related illnesses, it said.

“Ongoing contamination from the Fukushima crisis means fishermen could be at additional risk from handling fishing nets that have come in contact with radioactive sediment (6), hemp materials such as rope, which absorb radioactive materials, and as our research shows, radioactivity in fish and seaweed collected along Fukushima’s coast,” said Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace Japan Oceans Campaigner. “Fishermen, their communities and consumers desperately need information on how radioactivity affects their lives, livelihoods and the ecosystems they rely on, and especially how they can protect themselves and their families from further contamination.”

For example, eating one kilo of highly contaminated seaweed sampled by Greenpeace could increase the radiation dose by 2.8 milliSievert – almost three times the internationally recommended annual maximum, according to the statement.

“Even if all the leaks caused by the Fukushima nuclear crisis were to stop today, the radiation problem is not going to go away. A long-term, comprehensive monitoring programme must be put in place, decisive action taken to protect the health of fisherman, farmers and consumers, and compensation given to all whose lives have been destroyed by this disaster,” said Hanaoka.

PanOrient News

Article source: http://www.panorientnews.com/en/news.php?k=970

San Diego Mayor Limits City’s Use of Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles, Plastic Foam Products

May 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Protecting Habitats

San Diego Coastkeeper applauds the action, which stems from the organization’s 2009 proposalSAN DIEGO, CA-May 18, 2011- Today San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office and the Environmental Services Division announced a series of administrative regulations to limit the City’s purchase of single-use plastic water bottles and plastic foam products (often inappropriately referred to as Styrofoam™). San Diego Coastkeeper, the region’s largest environmental organization protecting inland and coastal waters, applauds the mayor’s action, which stems from the organization’s 2009 proposal urging the City Council to take the steps. The new guidelines, announced today to the San Diego City Council Natural Resources and Culture Committee (NRC) and effective on January 1, 2012, will reduce the City’s environmental impacts, potentially save money, reinforce confidence in the city’s municipal water system and set a precedent for other cities in the region.

The item was brought to the Committee after a December 2010 request from former Chair Donna Frye.  Under the strong mayor-strong council form of government, the administrative regulation does not need Council approval.  However, showing support for the ideas within the regulation, the NRC requested that the Mayor’s office report on the implementation of these policies at the November 16 NRC meeting.

“This will show great leadership to the residents of San Diego,” said City Council Member David Alvarez, who chairs NRC. He also noted that the City is the first in San Diego County to take these initial steps.
Specifically but not inclusively, the Mayor’s administrative regulation will:

  • Prohibit the purchase of single-use water bottles and water bottle dispensers with City funds, with the exception of facilities that do not have access to safe tap water to drink
  • Prohibit the purchase of plastic foam food service ware with City funds (referred to as expanded polystyrene, or EPS)
  • Develop standard language for bids that expresses the City’s commitment to eliminating plastic foam in packing materials, using alternative recyclable packing materials when available and/or vendor take back of the packing materials. This includes working with current vendors to reduce plastic foam use.
  • Revise City permit applications; including those for special events, parks and recreation facilities, and water reservoirs and lakes, to prohibit the use of plastic foam food service ware.

“We commend Mayor Sanders for demonstrating environmental leadership and fiscal responsibility with his policy limiting the City’s purchase of single-use plastic water bottles and plastic foam products,” said Alicia Glassco, San Diego Coastkeeper’s education and marine debris manager. “We hope the door will remain open to expand the restriction of plastic foam use beyond City events and that other cities will follow the Mayor’s lead and take similar action.”

The City of San Diego joins 48 California cities that have already committed to reducing plastic foam for environmental reasons and 28 jurisdictions that have limited bottled water purchases to reduce expenses and support public water systems.

“San Francisco canceled its bottled water contracts and saved half a million dollars a year,” said John Stewart, national campaign organizer with Corporate Accountability International. “San Diego will join the ranks of 1,200 cities and five states nationwide that have taken similar steps, saving millions of dollars.”

This step by Mayor Sanders comes on the heels of the statewide Senate Bill 568, which would prohibit the distribution and use of plastic foam containers by food vendors. Currently, the senate floor expects the bill sometime next week. Support organizers identified Senator Juan Vargas as a swing vote on the matter and ask that he take this action as a sign that his constituents are calling for reduced litter and debris.

San Diego Coastkeeper first proposed restricting bottled water and plastic foam at City facilities and events to former City Councilmember Donna Frye in late 2009. Coastkeeper cited beach cleanup data from across the county, which indicates a growing problem of plastic water bottles, plastic bottle caps and pieces of plastic foam littering the environment. In 2010 alone, volunteers removed more than 25,000 pieces of plastic foam, which is lightweight, floats and easily breaks into small pieces making it a challenge for removal from storm drains and the environment.

San Diego Coastkeeper’s website (http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org) hosts more information about beach cleanup data in San Diego County and the harmful effects of marine debris on the environmental, marine mammals and humans.

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San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s inland and coastal waters for the communities and wildlife that depend on them by blending education, community empowerment and advocacy. Visit them online for more information: http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

Signs of the Tide, sponsored by SDG&E Smart Meter and Cook & Schmid, are community events designed to educate, engage and empower participants in issues relating to the health of San Diego’s coastal waters. The meetings rotate locations throughout San Diego. All events are free, open to the community and include light snacks and beverages.

For more information about Signs of the Tide, visit Coastkeeper’s website at www.sdcoastkeeper.org.
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s inland and coastal waters for the communities and wildlife that depend on them by blending education, community empowerment and advocacy. Visit us online at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.