Fear of radiation in Japan has reached a new low. Now, it’s small, biologically-harmless amounts of radioactive material being flushed away by rainwater.
Last Sunday, a radiation monitor on a drainage ditch alarmed at Fukushima Daiichi. The alarm set-point for Beta-emitting isotopes, approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, was 1,500 Becquerels per liter. It reached 7,000 Bq/liter at the highest reading. Within 90 minutes, it had dropped back below the set-point. Tepco honestly reported that no tanks were leaking and no increase in the level of seawater activity had occurred. The company said they would investigate the source of the temporary activity spike.
On Tuesday, Tepco said they may have found the source of the sporadic alarm; a large puddle of rainwater that had accumulated on the roof of reactor building #2. The puddle’s activity was 23,000 Bq/liter. The outlet of the roof’s drainage gutter fed into the channel monitored by the device that alarmed. Plus, there were other puddles on the roof reading between 900 and 1,900 Bq/liter, but only one had enough activity to cause the monitor’s high reading on Sunday.
When asked by the Press, Tepco said that every time it rained the monitor showed an increase in activity, but this was the first time it alarmed. Further, while nearly all of the water passing by the monitor flowed through a bypass channel into the barricaded inner port, a small amount may have leaked by the closed gate leading directly to the sea. And, Tepco said it took about 90 minutes to close the gate isolating the channel from the inner port. This seems to be the point at which the feces hit the fan! The Press, as well as Tokyo’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, went haywire!
On Wednesday, the Mainichi Shimbun (one of Japan’s 5 largest newspapers) ran the report with the headline “Highly toxic water leaks into ocean from Fukushima plant”. The Mainichi claims there were actually 29,000 Bq/liter of cesium isotopes, and 52,000 Bq/liter of Beta emitters in the “puddle”, citing an un-named source at Tepco. Japan Times, one of the leading Japanese-American outlets, said, “The utility admitted Tuesday it failed to disclose leaks of rainwater containing radioactive substances from a drainage ditch at the stricken plant even though it was aware of high radiation in the water last spring.” The allegation of a cover-up is obvious. Even the usually-objective NHK World added to the fray, “TEPCO knew last April that the density of radioactive substances in the channel rose when rain fell. But it did nothing to prevent contaminated water from leaking directly out to sea, nor did it make the finding public.” Again, the implied supposition is “cover up”.
Fukushima’s fishermen also went ballistic, and the Press exploited it to the fullest. Japan Times reports that Masakazu Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative, said, “I don’t understand why (Tepco) kept silent even though they knew about it. Fishery operators are absolutely shocked.” Jiji Press adds that Soma-Futaba fisheries head says, “[Tepco] concealed the leaks into the ocean” and “Our relationship of trust has collapsed”. NHK World reports, “Fishermen are accusing the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of betraying their trust.” In other words, allegations of cover-up abound among Fukushima’s fisheries.
In what seems to be another attempt to show it is in-charge, the Nuclear Regulation Authority demanded that Tepco thoroughly investigate the drain-leakage incident, which it seems the company was already doing. Adding insult to injury, NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said Tepco should not have allowed any contamination to drain to the plant’s port and a system of automatic gate closures should have been in place to stop flow if a monitor alarmed. In other words, Tanaka believes the rainwater incident is worthy of public concern and Tepco wasn’t professional enough to keep it from happening.
I guess it doesn’t matter whether or not an approved alarm set-point was breached. Every time it rains in Fukushima, raising the environmentally-innocuous level of contamination in the run-off, Tepco is supposed to shout it to the world! And, based on what we have seen the past few days, each declaration will be exaggerated by the Press with elaborated notions of “high toxicity”, and the local fishermen will scream bloody murder.
Radiophobia (mortal fear of radiation) infects millions, if not tens of millions of Japanese. Surveys show that 20% the public refuses to buy any foodstuffs coming from Fukushima Prefecture because it might contain an undetectable bit of Fukushima contamination. They believe that if it came from Fukushima, it is necessarily tainted…a term used incessantly by the Press when reporting on Fukushima.
Exploiting radiophobia is good for the news media business in Japan. Radiophobia is one of the core reasons Japan has a Nuclear Regulation Authority. Radiophobia is a real and present danger to the psychological health of the third largest economic entity in the world, but Japan’s Press and nuclear regulators don’t really seem to care. They exploit the fear-ridden millions with what is no less than reckless abandon.
The foundation of radiophobia is the belief that there is no safe level of radiation exposure. That is, all radiation exposure, no matter how trivial, poses a risk of inducing mortal cancer. No level of exposure is 100% safe, under this notion. However, no-safe-level is nothing more than a false belief. (click on “Radiation: The No-Safe-Level Myth” and “Science Proves ‘No-Safe-Level’ is a Fiction”, in the left-hand column) However, the scientific truth about the safety of low level exposure is nowhere to be found in the Japanese Press, and the NRA is clearly an accomplice to this informational omission.
What about the impact by the alleged leak on the Pacific Ocean? None of the numerous sampling points inside the F. Daiichi port’s break-wall show one iota of radiological impact. Ditto for those taken outside the break-wall, including the sampling point nearest the old, now-isolated drain discharge directly to the sea. It has been this way since the sporadic, non-alarmable fluctuations in the discharge channel have occurred since last April. But, this doesn’t matter to the Press or the NRA.
It seems that every time it rains in Fukushima, Tepco will be forced to warn everyone that an ensuing, harmless-but-detectible release of radioactive rainwater run-off is possible. The Press will post exaggerated copy of toxicity and the NRA will tell Tepco to do the job it is already doing. As a result, Japan’s millions within the radiophobic demographic are having their existent nuclear stress amplified by a new, entirely unnecessary source of angst…rainwater!