Radiation contamination of Japanese food.
A few days ago, I was going to write a brief, pithy remark about contamination in Japanese food, but held off, because I thought it might seem premature and alarmist, to have done so. However, now, it seems, I would have been spot on.
Reports have come in, that Japanese food samples are showing alarmingly high levels of radioactive contamination. Milk, from cows living 20 miles away from the reactor – which, note, is OUTSIDE the area deemed “safe” by the authorities, has proven to be highly radioactive. Drinking it, will give the consumer the equivalent radiation exposure of one extra CT scan per year (if consumed throughout the year). That is a lot of extra radiation, given how much exposure a CT scan involves. So, too, and even more alarmingly, spinach grown up to 65 miles from Fukushiima, are rather radioactive too – giving the equivalent of one fifth of a CT scan per year additional radiation to a consumer.
Now, what is clear is that the contaminated area appears to be very large indeed – and that food grown within it, would cause long term cumulative harm to anyone who consistently ate food from such sources.
I worry about this. What will become of all the Japanese farm land involved? The time might come when only the Japanese will eat their food – and perhaps not even them. This has implications for food prices worldwide, if the Japanese start avoiding their own food produce and seek to import it, instead.
In understanding this situation, it should be noted that the half lives of some of the contaminants such as Caesium 137, are long enough (30 years), to make food grown there hazardous for centuries to come. If the Japanese are content to eat such food, one might expect a creeping up of national cancer rates and much long term misery.
There is a sharp lesson here, of course. It is an obvious one. No nation should build nuclear reactors in earthquake prone zones. To do so, is to invite centuries of contamination, of land far around, with consequent harm to generations of humans, plants and animals. The Japanese could have foreseen this. It was quite predictable. Yet, their own self-confidence got in the way of this understanding. Their misfortune should be instructive to all other nations, however. Don’t build nuclear reactors in seismic zones. Those that have been built in them, should be retired as soon as possible. Were this done, Fukushiima might be the last major nuclear “accident”, in the world.
Let us hope so. In the meantime: beware what you eat.
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