TEPCO says new leak has spilt 20,000 litres of radioactive coolant at the stricken Fukushima Nuclear Plant: It is now almost 7 years since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared everything is “under control,”

Friday, 17 January 2020

Radiation-contaminated debris and soil are stockpiled for disposal near the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)

Tokyo Electric Power Company says coolant has seeped out from an underground frozen soil wall built around its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The frozen soil wall came into operation four years ago. It was built to keep groundwater from flowing into reactor buildings. They were damaged by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdowns.

The utility firm, TEPCO, says it found coolant leaking at three locations from components that connect pipes in the wall. The company had noticed a reduction in coolant in its tank earlier this month and was searching for the cause. TEPCO says it believes 20,000 of 1.1 million litres of the coolant has leaked, but that this will not affect the operation of the wall. The company says it will replace the components in the wall and repair another leak that was found in December. nhk.org

Almost six years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe famously declared the contaminated water problem at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant “under control,” today it remains anything but.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) continues to face difficulties in dealing with water contaminated with radioactive substances at its crippled plant. About 18,000 tons of highly contaminated water remains accumulated in reactor buildings and other places. Abe made the  “under control,” declaration in September 2013 while Tokyo was bidding to win the 2020 Summer Games.
In reality, however, the situation is not under control even now.

In a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in June, one of its members, Nobuhiko Ban, told TEPCO officials, “I want you to show whether you have a prospect (for the reduction of contaminated water) or you have given up.” The water level did not fall as planned in an area of a basement floor at the No. 3 reactor building for two months. Asked why the level did not drop, TEPCO officials offered only vague explanations in the meeting. Ban made the remark out of irritation. Highly contaminated water that has accumulated in reactor buildings and turbine buildings is a major concern at the Fukushima plant. In addition to water that was used to cool melted nuclear fuel at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, groundwater also has flowed into those buildings through cracks. The concentration of radioactive substances in highly contaminated water is about 100 million times that of the contaminated water that has been processed and stored in tanks.

Immediately after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant in March 2011, highly contaminated water leaked into the sea through underground tunnels. As a result, radioactive substances whose concentrations were higher than allowable standards were detected in fish and other seafood. After the nuclear accident, about 100,000 tons of water initially accumulated in the basement portions of buildings that housed the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors and buildings that accommodated turbines. TEPCO has removed groundwater through wells.

It also created “frozen walls” in the ground by freezing soil around the buildings.
Using those methods, the company has decreased the flow of groundwater into the buildings and, as a result, the level of highly contaminated water has dropped there. Nine years since the nuclear accident occurred, the volume of highly contaminated water in the buildings has fallen to 18,000 tons. TEPCO aims to reduce the volume further to 6,000 tons by the end of fiscal 2020. Fairwinds.org

(Click to Source)


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Thousands Of Tons Of Radioactive Fukushima Water To Be Dumped In Pacific As Independent Testing Banned

The Japanese government is refusing to allow independent testing of contaminated water found in the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, which has been leaking ever since a tsunami and earthquake devastatingly hit the facility in March 2011.

The decision not to allow independent testing was allegedly arrived to over “safety concerns” in relation to the storing and transportation of the radioactive water.

Other organizations are not permitted to carry out tests of the water…If we are going to allow external organizations to test the treated water then we would need to go through very strict procedures and due process because that water is contaminated. If it is taken outside this facility, then there need to be strict regulations. – Hideki Yagi, a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)

However, independent environmental groups including Greenpeace and Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC) assert that this is indeed a cover-up against the true level of contamination in the water used to cool three damaged reactors.

There would need to be lots of checks because there is a lot of water, but right now it looks very much to the outside world that they are trying to cover something up – as they have a long history of doing. – Hideyuki Ban, co-director of CNIC

Although the contaminated water is deemed too dangerous to test for potency, the government of Japan and TEPCO both regard it as not too dangerous to dump into the Pacific Ocean as they likely plan to do as soon as their storage tanks reach maximum capacity in the summer of 2020.

The amount of contaminated water at Fukushima is astounding. On top of an undisclosed amount, which we still don’t know the potency of, ground water continues to seep into the basement levels of the facility with an additional 120 tons accumulating every day, according to the London Telegraph.

The decision not to allow third-party testing of the contaminated water at Fukushima is not only causing the public to lose faith in the government’s ability to safely manage emergencies, but whether Japanese citizens can trust them to tell the truth about the dangers they face as a country.

Tepco has lost trust across society in Japan as well as in the international community, including in South Korea, and providing samples for analysis would be in their best interests – unless they are covering something up…so providing samples that could verify their reports on content would go some way to demonstrating their commitment to transparency. – Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist for Greenpeace

In 2016, the Japan government estimated the cost of the Fukushima disaster to be about 21.5 trillion yen ($188 billion), nearly doubled compared to their previous projection of 11 trillion yen in 2013.

In 2012, exactly one year after the disaster, 79.6% of polled Japanese citizens favored phasing out nuclear power altogether. This led to the then-prime minister Yoshihiko Noda announcing a plan to phase out Japanese nuclear power completely by 2040. However, current prime minister Shinzo Abe walked back that statement in 2016, announcing that Japan “cannot do without” nuclear power as anywhere from 3.1-4.7% of Japan’s electricity is supplied by nuclear. By 2030, the government that number to be between 20-22%.

Since Abe’s government took power in late 2012, they have given the green light to several nuclear power plants, including the Onagawa reactor which was also damaged by the earthquake on March 11, 2011.

They claim that the disposal of Fukushima’s radioactive water will have only a “small” impact on humans, but how do we know that’s true without independent testing? How do we know what impact the radiation will have on marine life, fish, and in turn, humans who eat fish caught near the dumping site?

The Japanese government and nuclear companies want you to believe that what they’re doing is completely safe, “but that has to be full of caveats because the way that information has been presented is confusing and not transparent so ordinary people do not understand and cannot make informed decisions,” says Azby Brown, lead researcher for Safecast Japan, a Tokyo-based group which monitors radiation. (Click to Source)


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Human workers forced to work in highly radioactive area to topple dangerous Fukushima exhaust stack

Sunday, December 29, 2019 by: Tracey Watson

(Natural News) Back in March of 2011, the province of Fukushima, Japan, was struck by a series of devastating events that culminated in one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. The area was hit first by a massive earthquake, and then by a 15-metre (50-foot) tsunami. That massive tsunami, in turn, disabled the power supply and cooling functions at the Daiichi nuclear power plant, which finally triggered a nuclear accident on the 11th of March that was rated a 7 on the INES scale. Four nuclear reactors were destroyed, and clean-up work has been ongoing ever since.

Experts estimate that the task of decommissioning the plant and cleaning up the site will take upwards of four decades and cost billions of yen to complete.

In August of this year, news agencies reported that work had commenced at the plant to dismantle a highly contaminated, unstable exhaust stack. Before the disaster, the 110m (360 foot) high exhaust stack was used for the No. 1 and 2 reactors, and dismantling it is seen as a crucial part of the decommissioning work.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), responsible for getting the cleanup work done, decided that the dismantling work would have to be done via crane and remote control because of the incredibly high levels of radiation surrounding the stack. Even at the base of the stack radiation levels have been deemed to be too high for humans to work in.

Then, on December 3, Japanese newspapers began reporting that people had nonetheless been sent up to the top of the exhaust stack to cut the cylinder body with power tools, after the cutting device used to cut the cylinder via remote control had become unstable and emergency action had to be taken. (Related: Fukushima — Storage tanks are full, radioactive waste to be dumped straight into the ocean.)

Workers exposed to extremely high levels of radiation

As reported by Strange Sounds, after the robotic remote-controlled equipment failed, humans had to be sent in to assist with cutting the cylinder body:

Some weird stuff is happening at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant right now. While Japan has decided to drop radioactive water in the ocean, Tepco sent humans to repair where robots failed. …

The workers at the top of 110-m high Fukushima Dai-ichi vent stack were exposed to an estimated 810 ?Sv, making this action an emergency response.

This, despite the fact that officials had assured workers and the public that radiation levels would not exceed 300 ?Sv. (Related: Is Fukushima radiation affecting the West Coast? Consider these signs.)

According to Japanese sources, work initially commenced late in the afternoon of the 3rd, when three workers were lifted by crane to the cutting device located at the top of the cylinder. The workers were busy for around three hours, all the while wearing protective masks to cover their faces. Work had to be suspended in the evening over concerns about strong winds that had come up.

The following morning, another three workers climbed up to the cutting device where they refueled the generator. Within 4.5 hours, exposure levels had increased to 0.47 mSv.

TEPCO plans to cut the cylinder body of the exhaust pipe into sections of between 2 and 4 meters at a time, and estimates that its size will have halved by March 2020.

Since TEPCO officials were initially adamant that humans should not be involved in this work at all because of the dangerously high radiation levels involved, it can only be hoped that the robotic equipment will not fail again before the project is completed. Stay abreast of the latest developments at Fukushima.news.  (Click to Source)

Sources for this article include:

StrangeSounds.org

Genpatsu.Tokyo-NP.co.jp

Asahi.com

NSEnergyBusiness.com


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Japan gov’t proposes Fukushima water release to sea or air

 

Japan’s economy and industry ministry has proposed gradually releasing or allowing to evaporate massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

The proposal made Monday to a body of experts is the first time the ministry has narrowed down the options available to just releasing the water. It is meant to tackle a huge headache for the plant’s operator as storage space runs out, despite fears of a backlash from the public.

Nearly nine years after the 2011 triple meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-ichi, the radioactive water is still accumulating as the water is needed to keep the cores cooled and minimize leaks from the damaged reactors.

For years, a government panel has been discussing ways to handle the crisis and to reassure fishermen and residents who fear potential health impacts from releasing the radioactive water as well as harm to the region’s image.

In Monday’s draft proposal, the ministry suggests a controlled release of the water into the Pacific, allowing the water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods.

The ministry said a controlled release into the sea was the best option because it would “stably dilute and disperse” the water from the plant using a method endorsed by the United Nations’ Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. It also would facilitate monitoring of radiation levels in the environment.

Releasing the entire amount of water over one year would only increase radiation levels to thousands of times less than the impact humans usually get from the natural environment.

In the proposal, the ministry noted that evaporation has been a tested and proven method following the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island, where it took two years to get rid of 87,000 tons of tritium water.

The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., have been unable to get rid of the more than 1 million tons of radioactive water that has been treated and stored due to opposition from local fishermen and residents fearing further damage to Fukushima’s reputation and recovery. The utility has managed to cut down the volume of water by pumping up groundwater from upstream and installing a costly underground “ice wall” around the reactor buildings to keep the water from running into the area.

TEPCO says it has space to store only up to 1.37 million tons and only until the summer of 2022, raising speculation that the water may be released after the Tokyo Olympics next summer. TEPCO and experts say the tanks get in the way of decommissioning work and that they need to free up the space to build storage for debris removed and other radioactive materials. The tanks also could spill out their contents in a major earthquake, tsunami or flood.

Experts, including those at the International Atomic Energy Agency who have inspected the Fukushima plant, say the controlled release of the water into the ocean is the only realistic option, though it will take decades.

A government panel earlier compiled a report that listed five options, including releasing the water into the sea and evaporation. The three others included underground burial and an injection into offshore deep geological layers.

The panel has also discussed possibly storing the radioactive water in large industrial tanks outside the plant, but the ministry proposal ruled that out, citing risks of leakage in case of corrosion, tsunamis or other disasters and accidents, as well as the technical challenge of transporting the water elsewhere. (Click to Source)

Last Update: Monday, 23 December 2019 KSA 08:17 – GMT 05:17
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Japan: Radioactive Fukushima Water Release

Japan doesn’t want to share information about the release of Fukushima radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean.

And neighboring countries start to get really angry.

The Fukushima disaster is taking a new dimension, as Japan continues to hide important information about its plan of releasing radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean to neighboring countries.

The head of South Korea’s nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday, this ‘cover-up’ behavior was hampering the efforts made by Japan’s neighboring countries to minimize the impacts on their people and environement.

The owner of the Fukushima plant has been storing radioactive water in tanks at the site from the cooling pipes used to keep the fuel cores from melting since the meltdown in 2011. However, it will run out of storage space for the water in 2022.

The most probably consequence is that Japan will start dumping its radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

Fukushima Crisis and Nuclear Safety Concerns

Uhm Jae-sik, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, told Reuters: “We have been raising Japan’s radioactive water issue to the international community to minimize the impact … but as Japan hasn’t disclosed any specific plan and process we would need more details to run simulations and study.

In addition to the Fukushima crisis, safety concerns about nuclear energy have increased in South Korea following a 2012 scandal over the supply of faulty reactors parts with forged documents, prompting a series of shutdowns of nuclear reactors.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power, operates 25 nuclear reactors, which produce about a third of the country’s total electricity. Of the 25 reactors, 10 are offline for maintenance. [Reuters, KHNP]  (Click to Source)

 

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The dying west coast of the U.S! Now cod populations have nose-dived joining the list of seabirds, seals, whales, salmon, sardines, starfish, dolphins and tuna

dead-zone

Photo theleft.co

  • A deadly patch of warm water along the American West Coast called the ‘Pacific blob’, stretching all the way from California up to the Gulf of Alaska, has killed literally billions of marine species and birds since around 2011.
  • More signs indicate the Northwestern coast of Canada and the US is dying.
  • Study shows the Fukushima radioactive plume has reached the established fishing grounds across major migratory paths northeast of the islands of Hawaii
  • 50% of fish consumed on the islands of Hawaii were contaminated with caesium 134 the radioactive finger-print of Fukushima
  • Another study found caesium 134 in longfin tuna (Albacore) along the western coast of the US just one year after the Fukushima disaster.

According to Hal Bernton of The Seattle Times, the Gulf of Alaska cod populations appear to have nose-dived, a collapse fishery scientists believe is linked to warm water temperatures known as “the blob” that peaked in 2015.
The 2017 trawl net survey found the lowest numbers of cod on record, more than 70 percent lower than the survey found two years earlier.
The cod decline likely resulted from the blob, a huge influx of warm Pacific Ocean water that stretched — during its 2015 peak — from the Gulf of Alaska to California’s offshore waters.

The problem is not confined to cod, all marine life has been declining along the western coast of America, Canada and even Mexico since 2011.
Biologists tracked increases in bird die-offs, whale strandings and other events such as toxic algae blooms.
In September 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a new report claiming tens of thousands of kittiwakes, murres and auklets were washing ashore dead in Alaska for the third year in a row, the total number of deaths was incalculable because many many more birds are thought to have died off the coast and died at sea.
If tens of thousands of them are dying, it’s because there’s no fish out there, anywhere, over a very large area!
The deadly patch of warm water along the American West Coast called the ‘Pacific blob’, has also killed thousands of California sea lions.
Many starved as they struggled to find food in an unusually warm eastern Pacific.
Strange exotic tropical fish have been reported off the coast of Alaska.
An unprecedented die off which began in 2011 along the West coast of North America when billions of sea urchins and sea stars died suddenly in what was ‘one of the most unusual and dramatic die-offs marine biologists have ever recorded.
In January this year, the U.S. Federal government issues a disaster declaration for Alaska’s pink salmon fishery as the true amount of dying marine life began to hurt the fishing industry.
The collapse of Alaska’s salmon fishing is not the only problem hitting the North-West Coast of North America in the last couple of years, the amount of marine and bird life dying in the area is astonishing, as the list below will prove.

In November 2016 National Geographic published huge massive Puffin die off: Hundreds of birds were washing up dead on the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, and causing alarm among scientists.
They claimed the die-off was linked to climate change.
25th October 2016 – A mass die-off of sunflower starfish along the coast of British Columbia, Canada, was reported.
On the 28th July 2016 – 300 seabirds were reported to have washed up dead since May in Washington State, America.
In July 2016 Alarming number of seabirds was found dead on Victoria beaches, in Canada.
On the 17th June 2016 – A mass die-off of salmon in fish farms, due to ‘toxic algae’ in British Columbia, Canada.
On the 18th of March 2016: 10 dead sea lions found were on beaches of Vancouver Island, Canada.
1st February 2016 – 1 Whale and 3 dolphins wash up dead along Oregon-Washington Coast.
On the 31st January 2016: A massive die-off of fish, ‘never seen before’ in Snake River, Washington.
In January 2016 scientists claimed the Gulf of Alaska seabird die-off is biggest ever recorded after finding another 25,000 dead birds.
In November 2015 a report by  The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans claimed millions of B.C. salmon had mysteriously ‘just disappeared’ in a troubling year.
In October 2015 scientists reported seeing large numbers of dead or sick sea otters turning up in the Kachemak Bay region.
In September 2015 scientists reported hundreds of dead walruses were found on a beach area in the northwestern part of Alaska.
Also in September Kodiak Island residents reported a massive number of common murres washing up dead on local beaches.
In late August 2015, there were reports of dead fish on Lake Koocanusa, Canada a scene similar to one that occurred on the lake two years ago.
It’s not entirely understood what is causing the death of thousands of kokanee salmon.
In the same month, a lack of oxygen in southern Hood Canal was blamed for killing fish, crab and other marine life, according to Seth Book, a biologist with the Skokomish Tribe who has been monitoring the marine waterway.
Through the month of August, Skokomish staff observed dead English sole and thousands of dead and dying eelpouts on the beaches.
They also found masses of dead cockles and butter clams, and on Friday, saw hundreds of crab along the beaches that were trying to get to the surface to breath.
Also in August 2015, Hundreds of birds washed up dead or dying, ‘apparently starving’, along the Oregon and Washington coast,
In the same week, More than 150,000 juvenile steelhead Salmon died in a hatchery on the North Umpqua River in Oregon.
August 2015: The discovery of four dead humpback whales in B.C. waters in a single week, shocked scientists just as Alaska was also experiencing a surge of whale deaths.
Also in the same week, unusually warm water temperatures and low river levels were blamed for killing salmon in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys Alaska. Hundreds of Arctic char, recently stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, have also gone belly up in Campbell Point Lake, also known as Little Campbell Lake, inside Anchorage’s Kincaid Park.
The heat was blamed for massive fish die-off at Whatcom Falls hatchery in Washington on August the 6th 2015.
Two days earlier The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge was receiving multiple reports indicating a significant increase in dead and dying birds found on beaches in the Homer area over the last two weeks.
In July 2015 it was reported half of Columbia River, Washington State, sockeye salmon were dying due to hot water.
24th July 2015: A Large die-off of birds, plus fish and sea mammals were reported in Aleutian Islands, Alaska,
ANCHORAGE, Alaska: More dead whales were found in the Gulf of Alaska following the sightings of nine fin whale carcasses in late May and early June.
On the 24th of June, 1,000 tons of salmon died in a Seafood farm on Vancouver Island in Canada.
19th June 2015: Hundreds of spring Chinook salmon were turning up dead in Oregon rivers.
18th June 2015 –A report claimed 9 endangered whales were found dead during the past few weeks in Alaska.
The above report is just a snippet of the carnage along the western coast of the US and a recent report by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has revealed almost 50% of fish consumed on the islands of Hawai’i were contaminated with caesium 134 the radioactive finger-print of Fukushima.
While the report declines to claim the Fukushima radioactive plume has necessarily reached the Hawaiian Islands it did reach the established fishing grounds across major migratory paths northeast of the islands…

The report also showed that migrating organisms can transport the Fukushima-signature (caesium 134) over significant distances as they showed detectable 134Cs (6.3±1.5 Bq/kg) in Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the California coast only a year after the incident.
Another study found caesium 134 in longfin tuna (Albacore) along the western coast of the US just one year after the Fukushima disaster.
With no known technology capable of fixing the stricken Fukushima plant, radiation levels in fish species will only rise in the coming years, culminating in the death of the Pacific.

Written and researched by Gary Walton (Click to Source)

Thousands of Sharks, Other Sea Life Mysteriously Die in San Francisco Bay

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife isn’t dedicating any funding toward determining the cause, says resources are needed elsewhere

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As many as 2,000 leopard sharks have mysteriously died in the San Francisco Bay over the past few months. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says determining the cause is not a priority for the state since the sharks are not threatened or endangered, however, scientists say additional research and resources are crucial since the threat is now believed to be preying on other marine life.

“This year is unusual in that there has been a large number of other species that have also been dying,” said Dr. Mark Okihiro, a research scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This pathogen can tackle a variety of different species … we’ve had a much more diverse group of fish that have been found dead in the San Francisco Bay.”

At least 500 bat rays, hundreds of striped bass, 50 smooth-hound sharks and about 100 halibut died in the bay between February and July, according to Okihiro’s estimates.

Tiny Organism Blamed for Massive Shark Die-Off

Similar shark deaths in the area date back 50 years and have gone unexplained. Okihiro, however, now believes a parasite may be behind the mysterious die-off that has plagued the Bay Area.

“We’re pretty confident at this point,” Okihiro said. “It’s called Miamiensis avidus … it’s a small single celled organism. It’s very similar to the common amoeba.”

Okihiro regularly performs necropsies on stranded sharks found along the bay and says researchers at UC San Francisco helped him identify parasite DNA in a large number of those shark samples.

Humans who swim in the Bay or eat infected sea life are unlikely to become infected.

Parasite Eats Away at the Brain

The deadly pathogen sneaks in through the shark’s nose and slowly eats away at the brain, Okihiro says, oftentimes causing sharks to beach themselves or swim in circles. A leopard shark, exhibiting that very behavior, was spotted just outside the ballpark during a recent San Francisco Giants game and was likely in the process of dying.

Okihiro estimates 1,000 to 2,000 leopard sharks have died in the bay so far this year, however, he concedes the death toll could actually be higher.

“The sharks you see on shore are just a small fraction of the sharks that are actually dying in the bay,” he said.

Sharks are not naturally buoyant. Unless they are actively swimming, their bodies sink. As a result, infected sharks that die in deep water may never actually wash up on shore.

Several sharks and a bat ray photographed after washing up dead in the San Francisco Bay (April 26, 2017)
Photo credit: California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Bay Area Death Toll Likely More Grim

“I think it’s almost certain that the number of sharks that have died are much higher,” said Dr. Andrew Nosal, a marine biologist at UC San Diego and a top expert on leopard sharks, the main species that has washed up dead in the bay. “We have to find out what’s killing these sharks.”

Nosal’s ongoing research centers on the migration patterns of leopard sharks. He says it is crucial the state dedicate resources towards investigating the cause of the sharks’ mysterious demise.

“If we don’t find out, then there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit recently joined Nosal and his colleague on their research boat off the coast of San Diego’s La Jolla Cove, a known leopard shark hotspot.

“If you remove leopard sharks from the population, it is going to have a chain reaction,” Nosal said. “They’re eating other things and other things are eating them.”

Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban joined researchers Dr. Andrew Nozal (middle) and Michael Doane (right) aboard a shark research expedition of the coast of La Jolla, California (August 16, 2017).
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

While Nosal says he is concerned that other species are now dying, he also fears the threat could spread to other ecosystems along the West Coast.

“It’s isolated in San Francisco [Bay], but are we going to start seeing this up and down the coast of California?”

For now, no one knows for certain.

“I think that’s what the scariest part is,” Nosal said.

Dr. Andrew Nosal, a marine biologist at the University of California San Diego, captures a leopard shark off the coast of La Jolla, California as part of research on the shark migration patterns (August 16, 2017).
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

Researching Shark Tissue In His Dining Room

Researching the cause of the die-off isn’t actually Dr. Mark Okihiro’s job. He is officially in charge of assessing the health of white sea bass for the California Department of Fish and Wildilfe, but he’s been researching shark deaths from home in his spare time.

He performs necropsies on the dead sharks on his patio, studies bacteria samples in his kitchen, and examples tissue samples in his living room.

“We’ll probably have to wash this [table] cloth before thanksgiving,” Okihiro joked while giving the Investigative Unit a tour of makeshift lab in Southern California.

Dr. Mark Okihiro, a senior fish pathologist at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, examines shark tissue samples, at his home in southern California (August 15, 2017).
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

‘You Work With What you Have’

Field work on sharks is relatively rare. Okihiro, however, says additional research and resources are needed to definitely determine the cause of the die-off.

“In Fish and Wildlife we’re spread pretty thin,” Okihiro said. “You know, you work with what you have.”

Through phone calls and email, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit requested an interview with the department’s director, Charlton Bonham, to discuss the “leopard shark die-off” and the “agency’s overall involvement in the issue, including funding.”

However, the department’s public relations manager, Deputy Director Jordan Traverso, said Gabe Tiffany, Deputy Director of Administration, would be the best person to answer those questions.

Gabe Tiffany is Deputy Director of Administration for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, overseeing the budget and accounting (September 20, 2017).
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

State Snubs Shark Research, Prioritizes Funding to Higher-Risk Wildlife

“We have a lot of constraints on how our programs are funded,” Tiffany said.

During the interview, Tiffany could not answer how much money the department currently allocates towards researching the recent die-off, nor could he answer specific questions about the state’s involvement in the research effort.

Following the interview, the department confirmed it is not currently providing any funding towards investigating the shark deaths.

While federal dollars pay the bulk of Okihiro’s salary, benefits, and operating expenses, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife funds about 25 percent, totaling $35,925.

“None of this is explicitly for, or directed at, disease or pathogen analysis of sharks and rays,” Traverso noted in an email to the Investigative Unit.

“Because of Dr. Okihiro’s knowledge and experience with marine fish diseases, he is occasionally called in to analyze acute disease or pathogen events for other wild, marine fish species, including species of sharks and rays. But again, this is not explicitly part of his job,” Traverso said.

While the state Legislature and governor could approve additional funds for shark research in the future, Traverso said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to dedicate its current resources to higher-risk wildlife.

“Some of the current priorities include implementing the Marine Life Protection Act and establishing and monitoring Marine Protected Areas, rebuilding impacted fisheries (Chinook salmon in-river and the ocean, red urchin, red abalone), addressing the kelp die-off along the north-central and north coast, and implementing a different water management scheme to provide healthier fish populations in the Central Valley rivers, Delta, and San Francisco Bay,” Traverso said in a statement.”

A leopard shark is released off the San Diego coast after being tagged by researchers (August 16, 2017).
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

‘A Canary in the Coal Mine’

Leopard sharks are not a threatened or endangered species. In fact, they are some of the most abundant sharks off the California coast. However, Nosal said that makes them canaries in a sort of Bay Area coal mine since their abundant population appears to be making them especially vulnerable.

“When they die and wash ashore, it’s pretty obvious,” he said. “We see it. But what about all the other species that, perhaps, are getting sick and dying and simply sinking to the bottom that we just don’t know about? There’s a lot more at stake here than just leopard sharks.” (Click to Site)

Hidden Fukushima nuclear waste being released into ocean — ‘Surprisingly’ high levels of radiation now detected along Pacific coast and in groundwater far from reactors — Expert: No one expected this — “Alarming example of how radiation has spread”

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Newsweek, Oct 4, 2017 (emphasis added): Radiation From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Discovered in Sand and Groundwater 60 Miles Away… the beach groundwater is even 10 times more radioactive than the ocean directly next to the Fukushima plant.

Gizmodo, Oct 4, 2017: Fukushima’s Radioactive Waste Is Leaking From an Unexpected Source— A new and unexpected source of radioactive material left over from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has been found up to 60 miles away along coastlines… The discovery shows that damaged nuclear reactors are capable of spreading radiation far from the meltdown site, and in some surprising ways.

UPI, Oct 3, 2017: Beaches found releasing radioactive cesium into ocean 60 miles from Fukushima… Scientists have discovered a surprising new source of radioactive cesium… [Researchers] found unusually high levels of radioactive cesium-137 in the groundwater beneath several beaches… “No one expected that the highest levels of cesium in ocean water today would be found not in the harbor of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, but in the groundwater many miles away below the beach sands,” WHO researcher Virginie Sanial said…

Fox News, Oct 3, 2017: Fukushima’s radioactive cesium found an unexpected hiding spot… The find wasn’t just a surprise, but significant. As the researchers write, “Aside from the aquifer beneath [the plant], the highest recorded present-day activities of [cesium-137] in the aqueous environment in Japan are associated with brackish groundwater underneath beaches.”

IFL Science, Oct 2, 2017: Scientists investigating the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan have found an unexpected source of radioactive material… [It’s] an alarming example of how radiation from the reactor has spread… “It is as if the sands acted as a ‘sponge’ that was contaminated in 2011 and is only slowly being depleted,” said study co-author Ken Buesseler…

Study – Unexpected source of Fukushima-derived radiocesium to the coastal ocean of Japan, Sep 26, 2017: [T]he highest radiocesium (137Cs) activities outside of the power plant site were observed in brackish groundwater underneath sand beaches… During our study period, we found the highest cesium-137 (137Cs) levels (up to 23,000 Bq⋅m−3) outside of the FDNPP site not in the ocean, rivers, or potable groundwater, but in groundwater beneath sand beaches over tens of kilometers away from the FDNPP. Here, we present evidence of a previously unknown, ongoing source of Fukushima-derived 137Cs to the coastal ocean… This estimated ocean 137Cs source (0.6 TBq⋅y−1) is of similar magnitude as the ongoing releases of 137Cs from the FDNPP site for 2013–2016, as well as the input of Fukushima-derived dissolved 137Cs via rivers… This unexpected and ongoing 137Cs source requires further investigation… (Click to Site)

Alaska Fish & Game Shuts Down All Sport and Commercial King Salmon Harvest

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The Alaska Department of Fish & Game made a bold decision shutting down all commercial and sport fishing harvest for king salmon in southeast Alaska.

According to KCAW, as of 12:01 a.m. on August 10, 2017, all commercial fishing boats, guided charters, and even resident recreational anglers must release any king salmon unharmed.

With a focus on protecting future production of this species, Deputy Commissioner of ADF&G Charlie Swanton said, “It is imperative that Alaska offer relief now for these stocks.”

It’s been reported that commercial fishermen were able to wrap up the first summer opener in just 4 days, landing 66,000 kings back in July.

That left 31,000 kings to be caught during a second opener, which was set to run sometime in August. (Click to Site)

Radioactive Hot Particles Still Afloat Throughout Japan Six Years After Fukushima Meltdowns

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EMERSON URRY OF ENVIRONEWS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Radioactive particles of uranium, thorium, radium, cesium, strontium, polonium, tellurium and americium are still afloat throughout Northern Japan more than six years after a tsunami slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant causing three full-blown nuclear meltdowns. That was the conclusion reached by two of the world’s leading radiation experts after conducting an extensive five-year monitoring project.

Arnie Gundersen and Marco Kaltofen authored the peer reviewed study titled, Radioactively-hot particles detected in dusts and soils from Northern Japan by combination of gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and SEM/EDS analysis and implications in radiation risk assessment, published July 27, 2017, in Science of the Total Environment (STOLEN).

Gundersen represents Fairewinds Associates and is a nuclear engineer, former power plant operator and industry executive, turned whistleblower, and was CNN’s play-by-play on-air expert during the 2011 meltdowns. Kaltofen, of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), is a licensed civil engineer and is renowned as a leading experts on radioactive contamination in the environment.

415 samples of “dust and surface soil” were “analyzed sequentially by gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray analysis” between 2011 and 2016. 180 of the samples came from Japan while another 235 were taken from the United States and Canada. The study further clarifies, “Of these 180 Japanese particulate matter samples, 57 were automobile or home air filters, 59 were surface dust samples, 29 were street dusts (accumulated surface soils and dusts) and 33 were vacuum cleaner bag or other dust samples.” (Click to Site)