[Coral-List] Distressing News for the Whole Pacific Ocean

Austin Bowden-Kerby bowdenkerby at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 1 09:03:30 EDT 2013

Dear Listers, 
I thank Melissa Keyes for bringing this topic up to the list as things are unfolding that have the potential to affect us all.  I agree that what was released in March of 2011 and heading towards the USA is indeed rather minor, however the Fukushima situation has recently taken a turn for the worse and these developments may have grave consequences for life in the Pacific Ocean.  The international press is not covering this very well, however a recent summary of developments is available at CNN.  http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/30/why-fukushima-is-worse-than-you-think/?hpt=hp_c4  Also see an updated collection of unfiltered (both factual and speculative) news stories on the Fukushima situation at http://enenews.com/ 
It is clearly time for the scientific community to become both more aware and more involved, and this includes coral reef scientists.  All the stakeholders in Japan now admit that the situation is out of control, with an estimated 300-600 tons of extremely radioactive water spilling into the ocean daily, exceeding what was released in 2011, and with no end in sight and with the prospect of increasing over time.  The equivalent of 2.5 times that which was released at Chernobyl is so far stored in over a thousand temporary tanks that are beginning to leak, and the tanks are very difficult to repair due to the extreme radioactivity on site, with a lethal dose reached within only four hours in the area of major leaks.  An additional 400 tons of highly radioactive cooling water is generated each day and must be stored.  The storage tanks are not considered earthquake resistant and were put in place as a short-term measure until a more
 permanent solution could be found, but that solution has not yet been found.  
The total amount of radioactive material on site is equivalent to 80 times that of the Chernobyl reactor, which represents a grave potential.  The damaged reactors are adjacent to the ocean, which complicates containment and no one has yet come up with a workable solution for a situation rapidly spiralling out of control. Within a year Fukushima is expected to surpass Chernobyl in total environmental release, and with the majority of that release into the ocean and continuing.  
BBC Quoting Dr Ken Buesseler, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic 
Institution who has examined the waters around Fukushima. 
"It is not over yet by a long shot, Chernobyl was in many ways a one week 
fire-explosive event, nothing with the potential of this right on the ocean.... Once it gets into the ground water (its) like a river flowing to the sea, you can't 
really stop a ground water flow. You can pump out water, but how many tanks can 
you keep putting on site?"  
This situation is certainly not something to take lightly, especially as the problem has no end in sight and has the potential to suddenly worsen. The CNN link above includes plans of action for more direct involvement if anyone wants to devote some time to helping solve this planetary conundrum that very well could be with us for generations to come.  This is indeed, as Melissa put it "distressing news for the entire pacific Ocean".
Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation
P.O. Box 4649
Samabula, Fiji Islands

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