Arjun Makhijani: Radioactive strontium being released is ‘likely to be a seaside nightmare for decades.’
- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
As the disaster at Fukushima plant continues to unfold, one nuclear expert is warning that “this is an accident that’s shockingly not stopping.”
Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER),sounds particular alarm around radioactive strontium that is being released from the trouble-stricken plant:
Fukushima continues to be an emergency without end – vast amounts ofradioactivity, including strontium-90 in the groundwater, evidence of leaks into the sea, the prospect of contaminated seafood. Strontium-90, being a calcium analog, bioaccumulates in the food chain. It is likely to be a seaside nightmare for decades.
Speaking with PBS Newshour this week, the Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free author said that strontium is “much more dangerous” than the cesium 137 and 134 being released from Fukushima, and was found “at levels that are 30 times more than cesium.”
So to give you an idea of the level of contamination, if somebody drank that water for a year, they would almost certainly get cancer. So it’s very contaminated.
So that’s one problem. The other is the defenses to hold back this water from the sea seem to be overcome. So now the contaminated waters, 70,000, 80,000 gallons is flowing into the sea every day.
Then asked what happens when this radioactive strontium reaches the sea, Makhijani replied:
Well, when it goes into the sea, of course, some of it will disperse and dilute. Some of it goes into the sediment and some of it is taken up by the life in the sea.
And the unfortunate thing about strontium especially is that it bioaccumulates in algae, it bioaccumulates in fish. It targets the bone, because it’s like calcium. And so this is a problem. We don’t have measurements far out to sea.
The Woods Hole Institute has done some surveys. And they were surprised by how much continuing radioactivity they found, but no clear explanation yet.
But it’s not just fish that will take in the radiation.
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