Scientific fact vs. unfounded fear

Yamagata

Naoshi Koriyama’s Nov. 4 letter, “Lingering effects of Fukushima,” contains an error in fact and one in substance.

The factual error is Koriyama’s claim that workers have died from exposure to radiation. No workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have died from radiation exposure. If they had, we would certainly have read about it in this paper. What we did read was the opposite: “Radiation didn’t cause Fukushima No. 1 deaths: U.N.” — The Japan Times May 25, 2012.

The error in substance is the fear of radiation in fish. Even professor Ken Buesseler, whose work Koriyama comments on, points out that the vast majority of Tohoku fish are fit to eat. Also, even the fish contaminated by Fukushima No. 1 have levels of potassium-40, a natural radioisotope, occurring at 10 times the levels of Fukushima-derived cesium. He also notes that these fish will lose the cesium in their bodies if they migrate from Fukushima, thus lessening the threat to other areas.

As for contaminated water that Koriyama says is leaking into the groundwater, even Buesseler is unsure of this: He writes that the offshore contamination may be coming from groundwater, direct leakage, contaminated sea sediments or some combination of all three. In any case, groundwater generally flows from land to sea, so there seems little chance of direct contamination of our drinking water. (Scientific references provided for this letter.)

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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