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Radiation in Japan Seas: Risk of Animal Death, Mutation?

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 08:05 AM
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Radiation in Japan Seas: Risk of Animal Death, Mutation?
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 08:06 AM by SoCalDem

Christine Dell'Amore /
National Geographic News

Published April 1, 2011

If radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plantdisabled by the March11 Japan earthquake and tsunamicontinues to enter the ocean, marine life could be threatened, experts say.

(See related photos: "Japan Tsunami: 20 Unforgettable Pictures.")

In the past week, seawater samples taken near the nuclear power plant, on Japan's eastern coast, have shown elevated levels of radioactive isotopes, including cesium 137 and iodine 131, according to the New York Times. (See "Japan Tries to Avert Nuclear Disaster.") All life on Earth and in the oceans lives with exposure to natural levels of ionizing radiationhigh-frequency radiation with enough energy to change DNA. Most such genetic damage heals, but the addition of human-made radiation can make it harder for the body to repair broken genes.

Radiation concentrations in the Japanese seawater samples have fluctuated in past days, but on Wednesday the amount of iodine spiked to 3,355 times the legal limit for seawater, Japanese nuclear safety officials told the Associated Press. That level is the highest so farand an indication that more radiation is entering the ocean, though how is still unknown, the agency reported. Cesium was also found to be 20 times its safety limit on March 28, according to the Times.

Radiation Can Cause "Bizarre Mutations"

Once in seawater, radiation can hurt ocean animals in several waysby killing them outright, creating "bizarre mutations" in their offspring, or passing radioactive material up the food chain, according to Joseph Rachlin, director of Lehman College's Laboratory for Marine and Estuarine Research in New York City. "There will be a potential for a certain amount of lethality of living organisms, but that's less of a concern than the possible effects on the genetics of the animals that become exposed," Rachlin said.

"That's the main problem as I see it with radiationaltering the genetics of the animal and interfering with reproduction." Even so, according to radioecologist F. Ward Whicker, the concentrations of iodine and cesium levels "would have to be orders of magnitude larger than the numbers I've seen to date to cause the kind of radiation doses to marine life that would cause mortality or reductions in reproductive potential.

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Edweird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 08:18 AM
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1. Like the radioactive boars and mushrooms from Chernobyl, I expect the biggest
problem will be living, but contaminated, sea life
pushing radiation up the food chain. I think this
is going to make the BP aftermath look like a
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Generic Other Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 08:50 AM
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2. Food chain is really going to suffer for Japan
They will starve without the fish!
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deaniac21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 09:02 AM
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3. It's happened before...
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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 09:11 AM
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4. kick
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FLPanhandle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 09:11 AM
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5. It's a wonder the seas aren't already radioactive.
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 09:12 AM by FLPanhandle
The US used to dump radioactive waste in metal drums right into the ocean off both coasts, some countries still do everyday. The only reason people care this time is that it is close to shore and might impact them. We've never cared about the oceans. They are treated like our sewers & landfills.

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Baclava Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 09:13 AM
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6. Give it 50 years
Coral flourishing at Bikini Atoll atomic test site

CANBERRA, Australia Coral is again flourishing in the crater left by the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated by the United States, 54 years after the blast on Bikini Atoll, marine scientists reported Tuesday.

A team of research divers visited Bravo crater ground zero for the test of a thermonuclear weapon in the remote Marshall Islands on March 1, 1954 and found large numbers of fish and coral growing, although some species appeared locally extinct.

I didn't know what to expect, some kind of moonscape perhaps. But it was incredible, huge matrices of branching Porites coral had established, creating thriving coral reef habitat," Zoe Richards, from Australia's James Cook University, said of the trip to the atoll in the South Pacific. "We saw communities not too far from any coral reef, with plenty of fish, corals and action going on, some really striking individual colonies," she said.

The 15 megaton hydrogen bomb was 1,000 times more powerful than the blast that destroyed Hiroshima, vaporizing islands with temperatures hitting 99,000 degres Fahrenheit, and shaking islands up to 120 miles away. /

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