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California could be becoming ground zero for radiation from the failed Fukushima plant in Japan. Ocean currents have sent tons of radioactive water into the Pacific daily from the crippled plant on the Pacific coast. A study from 2012 reports that the plume of radiation made a serious impact on Southern and Central California, with Southern California’s seaweed testing at a 500 percent higher level of radiation than normal. Radioactive particles are in California’s air, and debris from the Fukushima plant is washing up on the Pacific coastline as well. However, due to an agreement brokered with Hilary Clinton, seafood from the waters of Japan is being sent to America without any testing for radiation.
Fukushima’s disaster has changed the face of nuclear energy. It has inspired social activists to protest the building of nuclear plants in India, and Italy has stopped pursuing nuclear energy altogether. Elevated levels of iodine-131, which is a product of nuclear fission and exceeds the levels of contaminant permitted in the water supply, have been reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Radiation has been detected in food and clothing, and sea animals have been found contaminated with radiation as well.
Radiation exposure results in a wide variety of health problems that include cancer. People have reported symptoms of radiation poisoning, yet California health officials stand by their stance that there is no serious risks to its citizens. The radioactive elements that are present in California are Iodine, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, which stay in the environment for eight days, two years and 30 years, respectively. Scientists believe that 80 percent of the cesium fell mixed in rain. Cesium 137, whose lifespan is 30 years, has been detected at 60 million becquerels per cubic meter in the waters of Japan’s coastline. This is a level of radioactivity causing reproductive and health effects in sea animals. Polar bears, walruses and seals are experiencing open sores and missing patches of hair, and radiation is wreaking havoc in the ecosystems of the Pacific.
California could be reaching ground zero as it bears the brunt Fukushima radiation carried by the Pacific jet stream. Michio Aoyama, senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Institute, found that levels of cesium 137 at the surface of the Pacific could potentially be 10,000 times higher that the contamination at Chernobyl, whose nuclear explosion was the worst nuclear accident in the world before the Fukushima disaster. Ninety-eight percent of the ocean floor is covered with dead animals, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has withheld information about this environmental crisis although more radioactive plumes have been discovered coming from Fukushima’s nuclear reactor number 3. Fukushima pours over 300 tons of contaminated water into the Pacific every day, with no end in sight, as the water keeping the nuclear rods cool is dumped into the Pacific on a daily basis.
In 2012 the U.S. government ordered 14 million pills of Potassium Iodide, which is a supplement that combats radiation storage in the thyroid gland. Yet the citizens of Japan are at an even greater risk, with the Japanese government silencing scientists and denying funding to those scientists who attempt to report true facts about the level of nuclear contamination at Fukushima. No matter what, there is more to be discovered, and even though California sits over 5,000 miles away from the Japanese shoreline, it may eventually become ground zero for the next big wave of radiation from Fukushima.
By Adrianne Hill