While several “less reputable” websites are doing their Chicken Little impression and telling everyone that the sky is falling, other’s have debunked the Fukushima fallout rumors, or at least, they are trying to. In order to get to the bottom of the radiation issue several other websites are publishing their own anti-Chicken Little reports.
Seems like, with several sides of information being represented, things are not quite that bad yet. At the risk of sounding completely pedantic; the devil really is in the details and when all the information is gathered; the world may not be ready to end in a blanket coating of radioactive fallout at this time.
It is a classic case of certain people having the ability to take some information too literally and to disregard other, just as important, information. For example:
Steam is rising from Reactor 3 – yes it is and it has been, rather simply, debunked by at least one website that points out that, in Japan, it is very cold at the moment. Any Fukushima radiation fallout rumors based on the CCTV footage of steam rising is invalid. The same website points out that: “Reactors put out heat. This is the reason that they must be cooled.” In a nutshell, when the reactor broke down, remains of the nuclear fuel remained in the wreckage. These “remains” are still hot and reacting to moisture either through the ground or via the air. Ergo, heat plus moisture equals steam.
Higher radiation levels are being reported – sure they are. After the meltdown of the Daiichi’s Reactor 3 sales and procurement of geiger counters went through the proverbial roof. As pointed out by one website these radiation readout tools; placed in untrained hands; can give some pretty wild readings. Added to this little fact is the news that radiation levels can fluctuate…a lot. Stand around one area long enough and the levels will go up as well as down.
Unsurprisingly, the world geiger counter supply has dwindled. In order to meet the new demand for these radioactive readers a group of computer hackers have developed Safecast volunteers who have designed/adapted computer hardware to work as special geiger counters. These volunteers are relying on other volunteers to get accurate readings of radioactivity present in the world.
The reactors at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were usually cooled by seawater which mixed with the ocean currents – is completely untrue. The reactors were cooled by fresh water, not the saltwater from the ocean. Saltwater was added as a last ditch attempt to cool the rapidly overheating reactor. The result was a run-off of radioactive seawater which joined the eventual groundwater run-off.
Maps show that the radiation is following currents and will reach the U.S. West Coast in a matter of days – and these maps are wrong. Or at the very least, misleading. According to Deep Sea News none of the maps that purport to show the spread of “deadly” radioactivity have any credence whatsoever. Citing three of the maps on offer to the general public, the website states that most of them do not have explanatory legends and that at least one, is an absolute fabrication. The fallout is not moving that quickly.
The bottom line about the spread of radioactive fallout from Fukushima is that it will reach the western coastline of the U.S. around 2014…in the fall. Not, as shouted from the Chicken Little’s of the internet, in a matter of days. Another debunked rumor about the fallout deals with the concentrations of the fallout itself.
Cesium-137, which is the byproduct of nuclear fission is already in the world’s oceans at “safe levels.” According to another map on the internet, this Cesium is travelling through the ocean in a highly condensed form spreading death in its wake. This is, however, incorrect as well. The fallout, as it travels away from Fukushima, is actually decreasing in its intensity. By the time it reaches the shores of the U.S. the Cesium-137 will be less radioactive, aka dangerous.
In essence, the radiation fallout from Fukushima rumors have been debunked by not just one website but several. The hysteria being propagated by a few “end of the world” websites is far from the reality of the situation. For a rational, and much more educated discourse, on the subject of the dangers of radiation fallout from the Daiichi power plant, Kim Martini – a Physical Oceanographer – has written a very indepth debunking of the Chicken Little scenario.
By Michael Smith