Deadly radiation is showing up now in California wines seven years after an earthquake and 50-foot tsunami knocked out vital cooling systems at three nuclear power plants, notably the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). Reportedly, the disaster raised radiation levels 1,000 times the normal level in March 2011.
A study released by the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France found increased levels of highly toxic cesium-137 in “18 different bottles of California rosé and cabernet sauvignon.” Wines vintnered between 2009 to 2018 tested positive for elevated radiation levels.
However, the researchers downplayed any danger to humans, claiming that the cesium-137 levels were within normal limits and posed no threat to living creatures.
Since then, for over seven years, dangerous radioactive materials have been leaking into the Pacific Ocean “from the crippled No. 1 plant at a rate of around 2 billion becquerels a day,” according to the Japan Times. A recent study conducted by Professor Michio Aoyama with the Institute of Environmental Radioactivity at Fukushima University claims that radiation levels have dropped to a level that doesn’t affect the local fishing industry. But Aoyama also indicated that problems caused by released radiation at Fukushima are ongoing:
“It can be assumed that there is a path from the complex to the ocean.”
Not everyone believes there are no environmental or health risks today from the radioactive pollution that began leaching out of Japan in 2011.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is a serious and dreadful story that mainstream media shuns, for reasons unknown. Yet, as early as 2016, publications like the Statesman Journal warned that “seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on the West Coast of the United States.”
That radiation was cesium-134, “the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima.” Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts found this highly toxic poison in seawater samples from Oregon’s Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach.
There are many types of radiation and small doses are tolerable, if not exactly healthy. Most people have been exposed to x-rays in a medical setting, for example. Sunlight delivers radiation along with heat. But cesium (or caesium), the signature byproduct of the Fukushima nuclear explosion, is especially deadly to humans and other life forms here on Earth.
Cesium is a strong form of gamma radiation that is particularly dangerous in water because its atoms go into solution – they dissolve. Gamma rays can destroy cell function, alter cellular DNA, and cause mutations when cells divide. When enough cells mutate, cancer is often the result. When enough cells die, the organism ceases to live.
All radioactive particles have what’s called a half-life. This is the amount of time required for one half the atoms of a given amount of a radioactive substance to disintegrate. Cesium has 40 known isotopes – elements that have the same or very closely related chemical properties and the same atomic number but different atomic weights or mass numbers. Think of isotopes as variations on a theme.
Radioactive isotopes feature deadly decay chains which release radiation over time and can cause radiation poisoning, related illnesses, and physical disorders. Scientists have known since the nuclear bombings of Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which ended WWII in 1945) that the effects of radiation on humans are simply awful: skin lesions, bleeding gums, and hair loss, to name a few of the major symptoms.
Stable isotopes are the only type of isotope that is not radioactive.
C-133 is the only cesium isotope that is stable. All other forms of cesium are the by-product of nuclear fission from power plants – and all are quite harmful to every life form on the planet.
The half-life of cesium-134 is just over two years (2.0652). This means that after two years, a single particle of cesium-134 loses half of its radioactive power. In the case of the Fukushima nuclear contamination, with radiation levels reported initially at 1,000 times normal, seven years later – now – that radiation level has dropped to 5 times the normal level.
Compare that to the half-life of cesium-137, which is 30.17 years. It takes just over 30 years for this poison to lose half its radioactive power. Today, cesium-137 from Fukushima is still almost full-strength.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much cesium-134 to harm humans. When ingested, the gastrointestinal tract absorbs cesium and then distributes it throughout all organs and tissues of the body. Cesium displaces potassium in the body and suppresses enzymes involved in cellular energy exchange.
The human body is equipped to get rid of cesium, according to a study published by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR):
“Once cesium enters your body, your kidneys begin to remove it from the blood; some cesium is quickly released from your body in the urine. A small portion is also released in the feces. Some of the cesium that your body absorbs can remain in your body for weeks or months, but is slowly eliminated from your body through the urine and feces.”
It isn’t easy to find out just how much cesium it takes to kill a human. Another study from the ATSDR pointed out one reason this is so is the lack of test subjects:
“Limited human data are available regarding health effects that can be exclusively associated with exposure to radioactive cesium sources” such as cesium-137 cesium-134.”
But 2012 research from Stanford University indicated that “even relatively small quantities of cesium-137 release dangerous doses of radiation.”
Meanwhile, the Daiichi nuclear plant at Fukushima has collected more than 1 million tons of water tainted by radiation that the plant continues to produce on a daily basis. The contaminated water is stored in steel tanks to keep it from seeping into the ground which is nearly at sea level.
Further complicating radioactive water containment problems in Japan is the staggering fact revealed by Wired that ” every day, as much as much as 150 tons of groundwater percolates into the reactors through cracks in their foundations, becoming contaminated with radioactive isotopes in the process.”
Japan has been filtering the captured contaminated water, creating a highly toxic sludge that, in turn, is stored in thousands of sealed containers. Wired quoted Dale Klein, “a former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission who has been consulting with Tepco since the early days following the disaster.” Klein voiced the concern on many people’s minds regarding the Japanese nuclear sludge containment system:
“Some of those tanks and pipes will eventually fail. It’s inevitable.”
Animals (including humans) absorb cesium by eating, drinking, breathing, or making skin contact with it or things containing its compounds. It would be a very good idea for all of us to pay attention to cesium levels on the Pacific Coast of the United States and question anyone who claims that small amounts are harmless