Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fukushima Fears

No worry, Brah. Fishermen no need one light to see one fish. Da all glow in da dark! 

Kidding aside, Tori brought up the concern about radioactivity from Fukushima. And while people here are watching and concerned, it seems to me that mainlanders are far more phobic about it. I can only attribute that to the sensationalistic trends in news reporting. Everything now seems to be the "storm of the century", the "horrific brutality", the "shock of the decade". Not that bad things don't happen, but they've been happening all along. It's not new. Not that the weather patterns aren't changing, but they have in the past and will change again in the future. And although the current reporters may be too young to have experienced it, I've lived through plenty of below zero cold spells, multi-foot deep snowstorms, ice storms, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and brutal heat waves. 

For some time now beachcombers in Hawaii have been retrieving bits of the tsunami debris. In my own yard sits a sun faded Japanese gas can, a silent memorial to the disaster and the thousands of ruined/lost lives. And although the topic is not in the daily town talk, everyone is aware of the situation here. 

There are a few official radiation monitors around the state that are recording atmospheric radiation. The readings use to be online, but I haven't been checking recently, so I'm not sure if the monitors are still online. When the catastrophe first occurred, people here stopped buying milk. I just shook my head because almost all our milk is imported from the mainland. But we do have one active dairy on my island. The State set up a monitoring system for that milk. And while occasional spikes in the radiation do occur, so far (as I've been told) the readings are all within the acceptable range and lower than some areas on the mainland. So it appears that our mainland milk might be "hotter"....thus far. 

Fish and shellfish are the big concern. As a result many fishermen now have radiation detectors, generally dosimeters of varying quality and accuracy. But every fisherman that I routinely converse with has not yet seen a spike in the radiation. So far, so good. But we all suspect that will change, so eat your fish now! On a side note, I make seasalt from our ocean water. Due to possible future radiation problems, I've been making extra salt, stockpiling it. Just in case. 
                    (Dosimeter. Several of my friends have this unit or fancier ones. )

Will it be dangerous to live here if we start seeing "hot fish"? For most of us, no. Just stop eating the fish. But how will that effect swimming? Living on the coast? I don't know. Will it affect our drinking water? No. We do not get drinking water from desalination. If one lives away from a beachfront property, will that be safe? Well, you'll be safe from the radiation but the lava might get you! Don't forget, on my island we have several live volcanoes. What about the food grown here? Seawater is not used for irrigation, so veggies will be fine. Land animals will be fine. But some farmed seafood might have issues, in addition to wild caught seafood. 
                                         ("Two Headed Fish" by Richard Svensson) 
It is  my understanding that the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California are presently more at risk than Hawaii. So Hawaiians are keeping an eye on what happens over there. 

Food for thought....are you aware that fish caught in the Marshall Islands are sold in the stores in the US? Have you checked recently where your dinner is coming from? 

The big problem with Fukushima is that the continuing contamination isn't going to stop anytime soon. Plus there is significant risk that it will get worse. I don't see the Fukushima problem going away in my lifetime. But my life is mostly spent. It's the children that are at major risk, not adults. Not a good idea to raise children around pollution, chemical and biological contamination, radiation. But many of the world's children already are! 

If I were a young woman raising a family, I would not fear being in Hawaii. I might steer their interests toward less radioactive pursuits (this is, if the fish truly become "hot"), but Hawaii is generally safe for kids. Well, other than the mold issues which result in asthma. But then, I'd keep my kids clear of mold too. 


  1. Have to chuckle. Word has it that a certain recently opened, big name Maui restaurant brags that they ship their fish in from the Tsukiji fish market. Is Tsukiji close to Fukushima? I'm not sure but I don't think I'll be ordering the fish just the same.

  2. How funny - like strontium 90 got in da cows on da mainland? Hey, Su Ba, you could test out your tractor-drawn driveway smoother/ drag rake when it is all wet - no dust to blow all over! And Julie, you know you can see which fisherman caught your dinner at Mama's menu, yeah? Why fly fin-food clear over da ocean? Nice pictures - I have tons from the islands. Need to go back, take more. And eat more guavas!