Go right ahead and enjoy that albacore tuna.
That’s the message an Oregon State University researcher has for those concerned about recent reports that the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan is leaking millions of tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day.
“Most of the articles about Fukushima have blown the situation out of proportion,” said Delvan Neville, a radioecologist and doctoral candidate at the university in Corvallis. “They do have some amount of radioactivity moving from the tanks. But the numbers that they’re publishing is from (material) right at the source.”
The estimated rate of the leak is .3 terabecqueral (Bq) per month — compared to the rate of 5,000 to 15,000 Bq released March 11, 2011 when the earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the plant and forced its closure.
Officials in Japan have since been dumping tons of water in the reactor to cool its cores, and are running out of tanks in which to place the contaminated water. Some of it has been leaking, and attempts to keep it out of the groundwater and subsequently, the ocean, are proving unsuccessful.
“This situation doesn’t feel like it’s in any way been resolved,” said Leesa Cobb of the Port Orford Ocean Research Team and the wife of a fisherman. “It’s persistent. We’re getting more questions about this when we sell our fish at the farmer’s market and at the food bank. We’re looking for good information about how to respond.”
On the ground
Neville said he believes most of the news coming out of Japan is accurate — but it’s been distorted.
The most reported news is that Japanese officials at the plant can’t keep up with the amount of contaminated water that needs to be put in tanks, much less the water that’s leaking from some that have been sitting at the site for months. Other reports say contaminated water is flowing over a protective barrier and into the sea. Yet another indicates radioactivity in underground passageways is 16 million times higher than what is acceptable.