By Edward Johnson
In attempting to keep updated on the nuclear disaster in Japan, I am alarmed when statements are made claiming that radioactive releases are no problem for the ocean. Twenty plus years ago while teaching at Seaside’s Broadway Middle School I had the fortunate opportunity to teach a pilot program that had been developed by U of Cal Berkeley and its Lawrence Hall of Science, it was called CEPUP short for Chemical Education for Public Understanding Project. One of the major tenants of that program was Dilution is Not the Solution to Pollution, contrary to what is being projected to the media by the Japanese government. Our lives are being heavily impacted by all forms of electromagnet radiation, from very long to very short waves. It should be a huge concern when the vary short waves are released which can play havoc with existing gene pools whether dispersal happens through air, soil, underground aquifers , streams, rivers, lakes or my primary concern our oceans themselves.
Today, with the at least partially melting of more than one reactor core and associated groundwater contamination reaching 10,000 times the safe limit, we have reached Chernobyl like conditions. In my mind with what is happening in the adjacent ocean we are witnessing a degree of magnitude exceeding that event. Like the recent headlines claimed, “The Titanic Has Sailed.” My mind has been racing as it tries to get a handle on the ocean scenario, as the readings for Iodine 131 steadily increase, 1000 times normal, 3000, and then nearly 4300 times then what is considered normal. Initially the Japanese Government could not identify the source, while I don’t live in Alaska, I can tell from here on the Oregon Coast, it is reactor core or spent fuel rod storage water.
Twenty two years ago a new marine species was discovered that is directly responsible for one in every five breathes of air we breathe, known as Prochlorococcus! Part plant like, part bacteria like and these little critters are so small, they avoided detection for all previous time prior to 1988. From this point on things become a bit fuzzy to me and by all indications I am not alone as to the mechanisms which enable the Prochlorococcus to pick up Iodine (Iodate stable form in seawater) and make it available to be utilized by the next level of producer/consumers, on one hand phytoplankton and the other macro algae, such as brown algae, rock weed(fucus) and kelp. Plankton pick up their bye product ( Iodide), besides producing oxygen, which is then converted to Methyl Iodide and of course sunlight must be present. The algae also produce a lot of oxygen and by a mechanism not totally understood utilize Iodide initially captured by Prochlorococcus and like plankton convert Iodide to Methyl Iodide and a secondary similar organic product, Diiodomethane. At this point we have traced Iodine through a\chain of events which identifies supposedly how iodine becomes organically available. We could throw in that without these compounds, such things as planetary UV ray protection would be reduced, cloud seeding based on the lack of these compounds would be disrupted and not to mentioned a huge reduction of planetary oxygen as previously noted.
Without losing readers will conclude by indicating why the background on the path of Iodine was included. When the ocean becomes supersaturated with any of some 60 different elements there will be consequences, we have not 10, 100, but 4000 times’ normal amounts of iodine. All plant and animal life is being affected. This means in that area the base of life from the simplest bacteria including Prochlorococcus, and diatoms, algae and all the way to our beloved marine mammals will encounter life changing conditions. Notice no mention in this paragraph has been made of the radioactive consequences which will be considerable. Granted the ½ life of Iodine 131 is on the order of seven days with an overall effective life of 15 days, looking at when the first 15 ends, we are stacking day after day of 15 day periods. No assurance has been made as to when this might stop. The risk of mutations become more extreme with each passing day, and will persist for generations.
I am not a scientist but have a Master Science Teaching Degree specializing in Earth Science from Cornell University. This article is based on piecing together a series of findings from several different sources. At several points have used terms indicating some aspects could be considered generalizations rather than fact. What should not have happened was the building of this questionable technological nightmare in the world’s most active earthquake zone, the huge potential of disastrous tsunami events, and the loss of the planetary oxygen, bacteria, diatom, and marine algae populations to mention just a few. Yes, the Titanic has sailed from Fukushima, only time will tell of the icebergs that lie ahead.
As a Political and Aerospace Scientist and political activist, I’m inquiring if anyone has evidence that the fallout from Fukishima, iodine in particular, could be acting as cloud seeding material giving more power to the current severe storms in the SE USA and therby producing large number of powerful tornados? Contact me on Facebook too.
Jonathan,thanks for your comment. I am not the expert you are looking for, but know just enough to be willing to speculate. Since you have read my post Titanic Sails from Fukushima some of my thoughts have been revealed. However the time lapse between the huge release of Iodine have been of sufficient time to reduce the potential of cloud seeding in our southern states. Here in Oregon we have experienced one of the wettest April’s in history. In addition the coastal diatom populations have been huge. Is anybody putting this all together, no. In my opinion another factor is very significant and that is all of the coal fired power plants that have been and continue to be constructed in China. Coupled with global warmer thereby increasing the amount of CO2, increased molecular activity and with the added potential of water vapor in the air the foundations are present as part of the possible explanation for the potential of tornado development. It is no news to you that the Gulf supplies a huge amount of water and the continental cold air mass from the north put everything in place for the catastrophic event witnessed. Did the events in Fukushima contribute to the intensity, to me its could have but only marginally.
What you discuss in this blog post is very important. The effects of the radiation will harm all of the oceans life, from the simplest forms, to our precious marine mammals. I fear greatly for the poor dall porpoise that live off the coast of Japan close to the site of the reactor. Not to mention the currents taking the radiation to Taiji where the dolphins are still in harbor pens. Today alone Japan dumped 11,500 tons of radiated water into the Pacific. We are killing the ocean!