Radiation Updates BC & Pacific NW 2015-2017 | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

Radiation Updates BC & Pacific NW 2015-2017

Fukushima radiation spread, 2015 -YouTube

Fukushima radiation spread, 2015 -YouTube


BC & Pacific NW 2015-2017


By William Thomas




The Cesium-134 collected on Feb. 19, 2015 off a dock at Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island was a Fukushima "fingerprint" readily distinguishable from all the cesium-137 left over from insane nuclear weapons tests of the 1950s, '60s and ‘70s.

“It's the first time we've actually seen it at the shoreline," said University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen. “Those levels are much, much, much lower than what's allowable in our drinking water."


Cullen said if a person swam for six hours each day in water with cesium levels twice as high as those found in Ucluelet, they'd receive a radiation dose that is more than 1,000-times less than one dental X-ray.

Cullen leads the InFORM Network. Formed in August 2014, the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring network includes Canadian and U.S. scientists and health experts, NGO’s and “citizens who help collect samples along the Pacific coast,” reports Dirk Meissner for the Canadian Press.


The levels reported were 1.4 and 5.8 Bq/per cubic meter. Canada allows up to 10,000Bq Cesium-137 in the same amount of drinking water.

The report “is not alarming at all,” said Ken Buessler, head of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s monitoring program at the time. “These numbers are quite small. 


“If they were twice as high and I was to swim there every day for an entire year, the dose I would be exposed to is a thousand-times less than a single dental X-ray. So the risk is never zero, but when I think of health risk, I always think of the Japanese side of the Pacific instead of ours.

The Vancouver Island sample also contained 5.8 Bq/m3 of cesium-137, which likely came from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.



Canadian Aki Sano took scoop of soil from Kilby Provincial Park, near Agassiz, on Nov. 16, 2013 and sent it along to Simon Fraser University for a look-see. 


On March 12, 2014, SFU reported finding traces of the radioactive metal Cesium-134 in Sano’s sample.

"That was a surprise," said Juan Jose Alava, an adjunct professor in the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University. 


“It means… trans-Pacific air pollution.”

Line P and bifurcation of radioactive currents


Between 2011 and 2014, Dept. Fisheries & Ocean researchers on board the Canadian Coast Guard’s John P Tully measured radioactivity along Line P, extending 1,500 km westward from Victoria, B.C. far into the North Pacific. 


In 2012, samples were also collected in the Beaufort Sea by DFO scientists onboard the Canadian Coast Guard vessel, Louis St Laurent (loo-ey saan loo-raan). That June, a small amount of Fukushima Cs-134 was detected at the western end of Line P. 


Since the Fukushima “incident”, says the DFO, “radiation levels off the BC coast have increased to about 2 becquerels and it’s expected to peak in 2015-16 at about 5 becquerels per cubic meter of water.


They were close. The maximum concentration actually observed offshore was 6.3 Bq/m3. Since then, “peak concentrations observed along Line P are decreasing, indicating the highest concentrations have passed,” InFORM says. 


Canada's (sky-high) standard for Cesium-137 in drinking water is 10,000 Bq per cubic meter. 


Ocean circulation models predict future levels of Cs137 off the North American coast “will likely peak at 3-5 Bq/m3 by 2015-2016, before declining to levels closer to 1 Bq/m3 by 2021,” the DFO reports online.


After decades of atom bombs detonated throughout the northern hemisphere, 1 Bq/m3 is considered “normal background” for the Pacific Ocean.

Orcas could be going extinct off BC coasts


One of the the saddest and angry stories this outrigger canoest has yet reported is happening right in my front yard. Just 25 km north, the December 2014 death of an 18-year-old pregnant female off Courtenay, BC could have signalled disaster for southern resident orcas.

The mother’s fetuswas already decomposing in her womb when she died.

“It couldn’t be much worse,” declared senior marine scientist Dr. Peter Ross. “This was a female who was at the sunrise of her reproductive life."

J-32’s death “doesn’t bode well for the southern resident population and certainly not for that matriline,” said Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research. “Her mother died young. Her aunt… hasn’t had any babies in the last 12 years. So there’s no future.”



J32 towed ashore near Courtenay. -Michael Briones/Comox Valley Echo

Howard Garrett of Orca Network was heartbroken. “Our hopes are just so fragile already,” Garrett said. There was a calf born in early September that lived less than a month and that was the first calf in two years. The last calf that survived was August 2012.

BC’s southern resident J-pod numbers about 85 Orcas. A sustainable Orca population needs at least 500 individuals.


 “There should be two or three births at least per year just to hold steady,” Garrett observed. "We like to see four or five per year. Instead, there have been seven mortalities and no births.”


Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard fears changes in the ocean environment are prompting odd behaviour and an extinction-level event – though he prefers to say, “unusually high mortality rate”.

The senior marine mammal scientist says the southern resident orca pod, found in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, has lost seven matriarchs over the past two years.

He’s also noticed “a lack of vocalizations from the normally chatty animals,” the Canadian Press reported. “Resident killer whales are typically very vocal in the summer, but for the second year in a row, they have been remarkably quiet,” Barrett-Lennard lamented. “So quiet that we often had difficulty finding them."

Intrusive whale watching boats, a warming ocean driving food fish north, and increasing acidification (also from humans burning fossil fuels) making small fry incautious around predators are seen as major threats to BC’s totem animal.

The first primitive whales appeared at least 50 million years ago. “Real” whales bigger than today’s sperm whales cruised the world ocean 35 million years ago.

The orcas may be starving. Chinook salmon, the preferred cuisine of resident orcas, is the other iconic species in the Salish Sea. First listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1999, the number of salmon taken by fishers in Puget Sound has since declined by nearly one-third.

“In areas that have experienced dramatic declines in salmon, there is a measurable deficit of nutrients to help support the ecosystem, the EPA warns.


Driving the salmon down are disturbed habitat from fish farms, incessant construction and road-building, as well as unsustainable catches, changes in ocean conditions, and more desperate marine mammals.


Chinooks, in particular, are also getting smaller “as fishermen target and keep the heavier fish, adds the Alaska Journal, warping the gene pool.


Orca birth rates off Canada’s west coast appear to be collapsing in tandem with disappearing chinook. One resident pod has lost seven matriarchs over the past two years. Southern resident orcas have also been seen the past two summers travelling in unusually compact groups further offshore to find food.

“There’s virtually no survival of the babies anymore, which of course means there’s no future, Balcomb concludes.


A 12,000-pound adult killer whale scarfs 600 pounds of fish and per day. It’s hard to conclude that radioactivity is having no impact on the orcas when research models show that within 30 years, “Cesium 137 levels in fish-eating killer whales will exceed the Canadian guideline of 1,000 becquerels per kilogram for consumption of seafood by humans – 10-times Japanese guidelines,” reports Larry Pynn for my former employer, The Vancouver Sun.

Instead of ramping up monitoring for nuclear contaminants, in May 2012 Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced it would cut 55 positions nationally – nine within B.C. – as part of a plan to "divest itself of ocean pollution research and monitoring.”


Of course! Why would the Canadian Government department charged with "protecting" disease-spewing fish farms and commercial catch rates worry about  radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean at levels not seen since the Cold War’s atomic tests? 

For “left coast” Canadians who like to eat without worrying whether their kids can be used as night-lights, between March 2011 to October 2012 more than 200 food samples from Japanese and domestic food products were tested by Health Canada. All were found to be below “actionable levels” for radioactivity. 


Promised necropsy results from the dead orca off Courtenay have not been released.


“Of the five species of Pacific salmon that are native to western North America, the sockeye is the most commercially prized,” Alex Roslin reports for The Georgia Straight


“It also has the most wide-ranging migration route through the North Pacific, swimming for two to three years – as far as just northeast of the top of Japan – before coming back to its natal streams in Alaska, B.C., and the U.S. Northwest.

John Kelley, a professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, says he's not sure contamination will reach dangerous levels for humans, but “if no one is sampling anything then we won't really know it, will we?”


Is food safe? 


“I don't think anyone can really answer that definitively," said Prof. Kelley.


Let’s look. 


Extended testing of 2016 salmon samples identified a Cesium-134 “Fukushima-fingerprint” isotope in one sample. The max level of Cesium-134 observed was more than 1,700-times lower than the Health Canada “Action Level” of 1,000 Bq/kg. It is “not known to be a health risk for either humans or the environment,” the independent fish-watchers report. 


Salmon from B.C. and the Yukon, as well as shellfish are currently undergoing testing by InFORM.


In 2017, “the highest concentrations of the Fukushima contamination plume remained offshore,” with peak concentrations of 6.3 Bq/m3 nearly 1,000 km due west of Vancouver, InFORM reports.


That year, “the upward trend in Cs137 concentrations in coastal waters” continued. Citizen-assisted monitoring data showed Cs137 concentrations along the B.C. coast averaging 2.5 Bq/m3. Highest concentration sampled from Winter Harbour (July 2017) was 4.2 Bq/m3.

Peak concentrations sampled along Line P between August 2015 (9.3 Bq m-3), February 2016 (7.2 Bq m-3), and August 2016 (6.3 Bq m-3) show a decreasing trend. This “indicates that peak signal from the Fukushima plume as has passed through Line P.” 


Radioactive cesium detected after 3.11 meltdowns -Our Radioactive Ocean



What about those initial readings of 70-million Bq/m3 off Dai-Ichi? What if you find yourself facing a fish dinner while you’re there during the Olympics?


What about the 300 – 400 tons of radioactive outflow still gushing daily into the Pacific? 


TEPCO is reportedly monitoring the Fukushima port with a sensor that posts fresh readouts every 10 minutes online. In Dai-Ichi waters, “current conditions (~300-900 Bq/m3) are far, FAR below” those early peak concentrations, InFORM indicates. This radiation “mixes with the surrounding ocean and is challenging to detect off the coast of Japan, much less across the Pacific.” 


The Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation is reporting zero Fukushima contamination in 14 fish collected in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the Aleutians and the Bering Sea between February and September 2016



Robot image of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor -TEPCO


September 2011 was the last time Health Canada posted its Radiation Monitoring Dose Levels from the "Nuclear Emergency in Japan". Interestingly, those reported readings did not vary from March 2011 – the only other sampling data publicly provided. 


Abbotsford         0.31 

Burnaby             0.54

Kamloops           0.53 

Kelowna             0.93 

Prince George     0.62 

Prince Rupert      0.45 

Tofino                0.37 

Victoria              0.35 

Vancouver          0.59 


Calgary              0.64 

Halifax               0.92

Toronto              0.53 

Montréal            0.58

Regina               1.06 

St. John's           0.76 

Winnipeg            1.06 

Yellowknife         0.85

µSv/day (x 364 = annual dose)  


    0.25    μSv    single airport security screening

   1,000    μSv   annual public dose limit in Japan 

 30,000    μSv   single full-body CT scan

1,000,000 µSv  max allowable career exposure, NASA

                        astronauts (1Sv)


City of Pripyat, located a little over a mile from the nuclear plant -Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Futaba, Fukushima today -Polish photojournalist Arkadiusz Podniesinski

Futaba, Fukushima today -Polish photojournalist Arkadiusz Podniesinski 

*CAUTION: Nuclear radioactivity does not care how “safe” anyone believes it is.


Is all this precipitation making you nervous? Have you been listening to Bruce Cockburn's “Radium Rain”? 


“One of the highest post-Fukushima radiation readings in North America came on March 27 in rainwater in Boise, Idaho,” Roslin learned. The 14.4Bq of Iodine-131/liter was 130-times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's maximum contamination level of 0.11 Bq/liter.


In response, the EPA instantly stopped monitoring Boise's rainwater after the extremely high reading on March 27, a little more than three-weeks after Fukushima’s fireworks. 


"The government always downgrades the results. They want to soft-pedal the extent of the accident because it will threaten our own nuclear industry," protests MD Dale Dewar, a Saskatchewan family physician and executive director of Canadian group, Physicians for Global Survival.


In rain falling across B.C.'s Lower Mainland, Iodine-131 reached almost the same level as in Boise. Anyone in either locale drinking two-liters of the rainwater per day for two weeks would have consumed 166Bq of Iodine-131.


“That's more than double the maximum amount that the EPA says a person can drink in an entire year, which is 81 becquerels,” Roslin remonstrates.


But Oh Oh Canada allows 6 Bq/per liter of Iodine-131 in drinking water – 54-times more than the notoriously generous EPA limits. That’s quite a discrepancy.

“It shows you these standards are not scientifically based,” says Gordon Edwards. “They’re arbitrary andreally based on political considerations. We have a government strongly committed to the export of uranium and promotion of nuclear energy."

The president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility continued: "To suggest that a certain level of radiation exposure is safe is untrue. It verges on misrepresentation. There is no evidence that there is any safe level of radiation exposure. It means you should operate as far below that level as you can." 


“Without adequate monitoring, we may never know the impacts on Canadians,” reporter Roslin concludes.

"Normal" venting of Hanford nuclear storage tanks -AFP:GETTY IMAGES

 "Normal" venting of nuclear waste storage tanks at Hanford, WA -AFP/Getty



As a duly diligent reporter specializing in military affairs and environmental health, after annotating more than 100 articles and reports in preparing this update, it looks to me that healthy adults residing from Alaska to California can continue consuming organic milk and free-range meat (not beef, please, for many other reasons).


For now.


Fish are not a significant source of radioactivity either. (Yea!) But watch out for dangerous levels of mercury contamination from coal-fired power plants. Air pollution travels. So do fish. 


Japan automakers check radiation on car exports - CBS News

Japan automakers check radiation on car exports -CBS News



When attempting to deal with radioactivity, four primary problems keep reasserting themselves:



Radioactivity drifting on winds and waters is as random as a kiss or a punch on the nose. No matter when, where, how often or how well spot readings are taken, these readouts remain snapshots of decaying atoms measured in bursts-per-second, while drifting unseen on the winds. Or muddy shoes. This can be problematic for all living cells, whose DNA does not respond well to being perpetually machine-gunned by decaying isotopes imbedded in tissue and bone.



“Low” radiation readings like we’re now seeing on the west coast only mean that if exposed you will not keel over, either immediately or in your immediate future. But every time something eats something else that is slightly radioactive – and is eaten in turn, all the way up a tottering food-chain to us apex predators – each iteration adds up



When it comes to publicly admitting radiation exposure, governments play games, mixing Sv, mSv, μSv, Becquerels  even Cold War REMS, and atoms per litre of water (Canada Health) – without explanation. Further obscuring the truth, hourly and daily exposures are sometimes implied as annual doses – a much lower number. 

Even worse, government agencies use “low” counts of external radiation (which passes through the body like a wave), to downplay internal radiation – which continues  machine-gunning tissues, blood and bones every second for weeks, years or decades.


The younger the exposed person, the higher the risk. Since moo cows bioaccumulate grasses that, in turn, bioaccumulate radioactivity from rain-drenched soils, I would keep pregnant moms, infants and small children away from anything coming from even “slightly” radioactive ruminants. Hormone-revved teens should also take it easy on red meat and milk. (Healthy advice regardless of Bqs.) 



This is the rock-bottommost line. Protracted exposure to low-level radiation is associated with a significant increase in the risk of leukemia in healthy adults


From 1986 to 2006, excluding genetic and other factors, of the 110,645 Chernobyl cleanup workers, 137 “liquidators” contracted leukemia. Of these unfortunate emergency draftees, 78% had been exposed to cumulative radiation doses below 100 millisieverts; 87% below 200 mSv.


These rates match Japan’s atomic bomb survivors. We’re talking 1/10th to 1/5th of one Sievert – adding up like a debit account until the final payments are human lives. 


Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, confirms the journal Biological Reviews. “Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded, reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years.”


“When you do the meta-analysis, you do see significant negative effects," comments Timothy Mousseau, a biologist who compiled historical data with co-author Anders P. Møller at the U. of South Carolina. "Radiation effects are measurable as far down as you can go.



By 2013, the Radiation Emergency Medical Management division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was warning of 40,000 mSv (or 4 REM) doses of Iodine-131 infants under one-year-old in California, reports Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD.  


Declaring an "Iodine Emergency" in that state, Dr. Sircus stated, "A child's dose of 5 REM is immediate grounds for evacuation and prophylactic measures.

With an increased thyroid uptake of radioactive Iodine-131 during their first trimester – and their unborn experiencing increased thyroid uptake in the second and third trimester of pregnancy – breast-feeding mothers will have to make their own call.   


“Unborn, infants and children have tiny thyroid glands and an overall small body mass. Thus when ingested, a particle of iodine-131 can direct tremendous and damaging energy at cells at a much greater ratio than in an adult,” Dr. Mark Sircus further points out.


Nursing mothers can secrete 25% of their iodine to their babies.


Newborn babies uptake iodine at rates 16-times higher than adults. Infants under the age of one have an eight- times higher uptake than adults. Five-year-old children have four-times the adult uptake rate - and their little bodies are not made to handle it. 


Trusting Americans enjoy above-ground nuclear test in the USA





 发件人     William Thomas 2019