Tuesday, March 04, 2014
No U.S. government or international agency is monitoring the spread of Fukishima radiation—we’ll have to do it ourselves
No U.S. government or international agency is monitoring the spread of low levels of radiation from Fukushima along the West Coast of North America and around the Hawaiian Islands.--The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1/28/2014
by Larry Geller
It’s getting harder for concerned citizens to know what to be concerned about most these days.
Whether it’s BPA (or worse) in our sippy cups or Fukushima radioactivity in our ocean water, it’s frustrating to know that vital information is being withheld from us by corporations and by our governments. You can find out more about chemicals in plastic containers at the link just above, but ocean water radiation reports seem to be more elusive.
A new project seeks to fill the gap by crowdsourcing testing of ocean water. We can gather information that we’re not getting from government sources ourselves.
Arguably, government silence is nothing new. Tobacco is perhaps the best example of the sacrifice of public health for corporate profit, and our own government didn’t hesitate to test or use nuclear weapons. One way or the other, it looks like citizens still need to take the initiative to protect our lives and health whether from harmful chemicals or from radiation.
For almost three years, a question has nagged at people living near the coastline in Alaska, British Columbia, Hawaii and along the U.S. West Coast. Is a plume of radioactive ocean water really inching its way toward us from Japan? By all accounts, yes it is.
[care2.com, How You Can Help Scientists Test U.S. Coastal Waters for Fukushima Radiation, 2/6/2014]
Is our federal government protecting us? What about the state? A bill just passed out of the Hawaii Senate to monitor radiation levels in the future (see below) received overwhelming popular and legislative support, moving forward despite state government objections.
Is the Hawaii Department of Health actively protecting us by monitoring ocean water that may contain Fukushima radiation? It’s hard to tell if they are.
The DOH home web page says nothing about radiation monitoring at all. But aha, there is a search box. typing in “radiation” brings up a few hits, mostly about response to radiation emergencies. But there is this:
It’s dated August 14, 2013, but might as well click and take a look. Clicking on the link takes one not to a radiation report, but to a missing report on “south-beach-diet-protein-smoothie-mango.”
In a KITV story, the DOH response to a senator’s question on the age and visibility of its reports was “duly noted.” Noted, perhaps, but it’s now a month later and it’s not fixed.
So much for DOH commitment to radiation monitoring.
SB3049 passed third reading and was submitted to the House this morning. The SD1 states, in part:
The department of health shall implement a radiation monitoring pilot project that shall:
(1) Measure and monitor radiation levels in items such as food, dairy products, rainwater, aquifers, and drainage ditches that may be susceptible to increased radiation levels due to the March 11, 2011, Fukushima nuclear disaster; and
(2) Post periodic reports on the department's website of those radiation levels and their significance to the State.
Interestingly, the Senate bill omits ocean water.
Individual testimony submitted to the committees on this bill was universally in support—with the notable exception of the Department of Health. Some of the testimony called for even more extensive testing, for example, of depleted uranium radiation. People do seem concerned about the lack of monitoring in Hawaii.
The Department of Health submitted late testimony in opposition. In their testimony, they stated that they are on top of things already.
This bill is unnecessary because the Department has already implemented additional radiation monitoring since March 11, 2011.
Fiscal Implications: Implementation of this measure may require additional funding for sampling and laboratory analysis at a cost of approximately $1000.00 per sample
The Department has already established enhanced radiation surveillance around the islands in response to the Fukushima nuclear event. This includes continuous air sampling through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Radnet system located in Honolulu; monthly (or as rain capture permits) precipitation sampling; quarterly milk and drinking water sampling; quarterly shoreline surveillance on the Islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and Oahu; and surveying of Japan Tsunami Marine Debris (JTMD), as needed.
Trace amounts of radioactive material were detected in air, milk and precipitation samples for a few weeks following the Fukushima event, but were far below levels of public health concern. Levels have long since returned to normal values associated with background radiation. Reports of findings and advisories have been periodically posted to the Department’s website since March 14, 2011, along with links for additional resources from various agencies.
So the DOH is monitoring? What tests are they performing, and according to what procedures?
As to links, DOH refers to the federal government’s RadNet data. At least the feds have a web page. Data is for air monitoring. We might be more curious about water around the Hawaiian islands since the Fukushima reactors continue to dump radioactivity into the ocean.
So who will monitor ocean water? Scientists have said that any radiation will be too dilute to be harmful, but yet there is controversy. If no radiation shows up, great! But who is watching?
We’ll have to do it ourselves.
See the sidebar for information on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute program that proposes to crowdsource ocean water monitoring. You can become a monitor. Check it out.
Ha-ha.. Which reminds me... Re: nuclear testing in Nevada -
Reported in "The Enemy Within" (1996) by Jay Gould, "The Nevada down winders' suits were unsuccessful. Despite winning their case in the lower courts, the Appellate Court ruled in favor of the Atomic Energy Commission on the grounds that the US government could not be held responsible. At one point, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs sent a series of interrogatories to the AEC defense counsel with the following simple question: Who has the responsibility for the safety and welfare of persons and their property near areas of possible fallout? The AEC answered as follows: "It is the responsibility of the heads of families and owners of property to protect their families and their property from possible radioactive fallout."
Perhaps you could get the cost of lab testing covered by volunteering at the website and using their fundraising pages.
Links to this post: