Fukushima Nuclear Waste
By Yoichi Shimatsu
Strolling over the cliffs in Southern California, I looked down at a white-sand beach pimpled with a crimson rash along the high-tide line. Close up, the red dots turned out to be hundreds of thousands of thumb-sized crustaceans of the speciesPleuroncodes planipes that resemble tiny lobsters. Most of those pelagic red crabs or langostilla, also known as tuna crabs, were sprawled dead on the sand, tangled in strands of kelp or alive but listless inside the rocky tide pools. The crustaceans appeared to be in fresh, without signs of injury or disease, and there was no stench of the fish market.
Seagulls had left the smaller limbs at the water’s edge but soon quit the all-you-can eat buffet, indicating their ability to detect a hidden toxin. The langostilla kill-off cannot be called an act of nature since my dosimeter detected radiation levels of between 0.12 microSieverts per hour and 0.18 micSv in their bodies. The official safety level for human health set by the pro-nuclear government of Japan is 0.11. Considering the difference in body weight and the water content in their flesh, these marine creatures were terminated by radioactive exposure.
A World Without Mercy
A Japanese saying about the predatory instinct translates as: “Nature is harsh”. Hermit crabs are natural-born killers, whose feasting on victims was the last act of gratification in a microcosm without mercy or moral conscience. Inside the barren tide pools, shell-shielded hermit crabs skittered toward living langostilla to prod and poke at the jerking joints. After hacking off a limb from its prey, a hermit crab would stumble off to dine in private, only to be accosted and robbed by fellow thieves. One pelagic red crab still had the residual energy to escape its attackers by darting backward, propelled by curling its tail. Its blind retreat led straight to a gang of hermits that pounced on the meal.
While most other shoreline species have hit dead end by now, these tiny monsters survive by tucking their thoraxes into the shells of dead mollusks, which serve as a shield against the elements and other predators. The calcium content of the stolen shells seems to block strontium, temporarily at least, affording the hermits a critical edge over other types of crabs, whose bare flesh is vulnerable to radioactivity during molting. The undisturbed cherry-blossom pink flesh of a rock crab revealed an utter lack of defense against radioactive seawater when bereft of its hard carapace. Though it smelled as salty sweet as any tidbit at a sushi bar, no hermit or gull came near it, here again indicating predators have a sensory alarm against radioactive flesh.
Along 3 kilometers of an otherwise lifeless coastline, I saw thousands of twitching shells that housed hermit crabs, but only a handful of surviving rock crabs. This proportion is in stark contrast with two years earlier when rock crabs were a dominant species in tide pools, then brimming with marine organisms including anemones, mussels, sea snails, giant keyhole limpets, colorful fishes, rock lobsters and octopuses. The kill-off is by now over, and the radioactivity in langostilla flesh is probably dooming those hungry hermits. Even the most vicious survivors in this biological disaster will soon perish.
The demise of marine life is caused by a misplaced faith in science of a non-oceanic species called homo sapiens, which parasites off nuclear reactors to light and cool their own hermitages. The nearby San Onofre facility and distant Fukushima have both been spilling radioactive wastewater onto these magnificent shores of Southern California. It is astonishing how humans are as psychologically stunted as hermit crabs, wallowing in greed, myopia and acedia. Predatory cruelty is indelibly stamped on our character, for it is the brute impulse that led to the original sin of rejecting our obligation to stewardship over life on Earth. As radioactivity and pollution annihilate the mother ocean, we come to understand, that without the strong safeguard of ethical principles, science is a just sharp instrument for robbery, bloodshed, cannibalism and moral lobotomy.
Scientific Fraud Dooms the Whales
Lethal beachings of pelagic red crabs occurred on these shores twice before, in January and June of 2015. These arrivals have been unusual events since their native habitat is on the seafloor in the tropical waters from Mexico south to Chile. In clumsy attempts to explain last year’s beachings, some marine biologists stated flat-out to the news media that the red crabs moved northward to the California coast to mate due to warmer waters caused by El Nino. The unsupported claim is blatant scientific fraud.
The overwhelming majority of the beached langostilla were juveniles, about half to two-thirds of the full-grown 13-centimeter (5 inch) length of a mature red crab. None had egg-sacs attached to their bellies, and therefore did not swim north for breeding purposes.
The actual force that warms the Southern California coastal waters is the annual countercurrent of semitropical water during the winter months, between January and March, originating in the Coronado Island region off San Diego. This annual back-flow is unrelated to El Nino and sufficed to carry the first batch of free-swimming red crabs in January 2015. During the rest of the year, El Nino has a negligible effect on the California current, doing absolutely nothing to encourage local surfers to doff their wet suits.
The red crabs did not mass migrate because of El Nino. The second migration occurred in June and the third in May, at the start of coldest period in the California Current, meaning the langostilla were not interested in romance but had fled a recurrent disaster affecting the continental shelf off Mexico. Nor did these invertebrates die from domoic acid poisoning related to El Nino, since there have been no toxic shellfish warnings along the coast and public-health records show safe levels in Southern California. A domoic acid “contagion” is the catch-all theory for West Coast kill-offs from a questionable marine chemistry team at U.C. Santa Cruz. The bogus claims are dismissed below, at the end of this essay.
The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has grossly abused its science-funding role to promote climate change as the sole culprit threatening the global mega-ecosystem. Ethically compromised research centers have gone along with the pro-corporate deception, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), Scripps at La Jolla and the numerous universities under their censorial influence. With thousands of marine species and countless human lives at stake, the cover-up of radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere over the Northern Hemisphere is shaping up as the most disgraceful chapter in the annals of scientific fraud.
A fair standard of truthfulness, based on observations along the shoreline, along with deep-sea data if ever such become available, will show that the driving force behind this mass death of crustaceans is a major disruption of the Pacific marine ecosystem resulting from nuclear-dumping from Fukushima’s melted-down reactors since 2011, as well as radioactive leaks from San Onofre. The poisoning by radionucleotides of pelagic red crabs, which have a vital role in the food chain, has dire implications for great whales and other sea mammals as well as sea turtles, fish and invertebrates, including a wide range of seafood consumed by humans.
Mid-Level in the Food Chain
Crustaceans comprise the largest share of animal biomass in the oceanic food chain. Microscopic copepods and amphipods are a major component of zooplankton, which comprise the broad base of the protein pyramid. Krill and pelagic crabs anchor the diet of migratory baleen whales on either end of their annual tropic-to-polar and return journeys. Baleen whales, including the blue whales, feed on red crabs in the tropic waters during the winter months, scooping up the crustaceans from the sandy seafloor (the benthic zone) or passing these through their cartilage filters in the open waters (the pelagic regions).
As discussed in my autumn 2011 essay from the coast of Japan, titled Death of the Pacific (rense.com/general95/death.htm),the bulk of zooplankton in the North Pacific is generated east of the Tokyo region in huge eddies generated by the convergence of the warm Kurioshio stream and the cold Oyashio current. Radioactive isotopes from Fukushima are absorbed by phytoplankton (algae), which sustain microscopic zooplankton and larvae. These microorganisms, the major feed stock for fish and marine mammals, are then carried along the North Pacific Current to the West Coast of North America, and spread as far as Alaska and Chile.
During the trans-Pacific passage, of course, the concentration of radioactive salts and solid “hot” particles is diluted by the vast volume of oceanic water. Although only a minuscule amount may be present in clusters of zooplankton, radioactive isotopes are steadily bioaccumulated in krill and pelagic red crabs, as evidenced in the dosimeter readings at Crystal Cove in a Southern California.
The ongoing sea-dumping from Fukushima and other nuclear plants eventually affects the reproduction cycle of zooplankton species, such as the copepods, protists, diatoms, which form the primary diet for the pelagic red crabs and krill. Gamma and beta radiation disrupts the mitosis, or cell division, of tiny marine organisms, disrupting gene sequences, which results in mutations or outright death. When the die-offs of individuals drops the cluster population before critical mass, physical dispersion prevents these tiny organisms from biochemically signaling each other for mating. A fatal separation eliminates the possibility reproduction, and zooplankton becomes ever-scarcer in the empty currents.
At that point of disbandment, or collapse of the bottom tier of the food chain, the pelagic red crabs must swim away into new feeding zone in search of “greener pastures.” Thus, the red crab escaped to California, a most dangerous feeding ground due to the risk exposure near radioactive kelp beds. Presumably, a similar movement toward the south occurs as more distant hordes of langostilla move down the South American coast to forage off the temperate waters of southern Chile. Hostile colder waters slows down the pelagic red crabs and makes them more susceptible to radioactivity-related disorders.
Pursuing the ever-slower red crab hordes, the great whales gorge themselves on these crustaceans but eventually intake a fatal radioactive dosage. Radionucleotide poisoning during the red crab diaspora into the temperate zone probably accounts for the mass deaths of 337 Sei whales off Chile, as well as the many fatalities among gray whales off the U.S. West Coast and Alaska. Irregular heartbeat due to cesium build-up in the coronary region is the probable cause of these whale mortalities, as shown in my 2013 field research on sea lions at San Onofre. (http://rense.com/general95/sanofre.html)
A question that any skeptical observer may ask is: Why is this person one of only a handful out there, along with Canadian Dana Durnford in British Columbia, assigning blame for the Pacific kill-offs on radiation from Fukushima?
The answer is: Field studies with simple radiation-detecting devices enable this type of inquiry, despite the lack of research vessels, sophisticated scientific instruments and budgets. Given the cross-species kill-offs, the causal factor cannot be a highly specialized pathogen. Therefore reasonable conclusions can be arrived at despite the many limitations. This series of essays is meant only to stand in while proficient, experienced and honest marine biologists are being muzzled and prevented from disclosing their findings.
Probably more marine scientists and veterinarians that anyone suspects know full well that radiation is doing massive harm to sea life but cannot address the public with their concerns due to professional peer pressure and risk to their careers and possibly their lives. Many researchers, as far as I can tell from volunteer colleagues, are doing radioactivity measurements in private, apart from the increasing regime of surveillance over lab work. I hope that those honest scientists continue their work on behalf of the living ocean and its importance for humanity, and emerge with public disclosure when the political atmosphere becomes more propitious for policy and action. Now let’s proceed to the microcosm of tide pools.
Lethal Sandbars, Dead Pools
Judging from the similarity between radiation levels in the younger kelp washed ashore and the beached red crabs, lethal exposure occurred on the sandbars between 2 meters and 7 meters below sea level and at a horizontal distance of 30 meters to 200 meters from shore. After journeying northward the pelagic crabs clustered below the kelp beds on sandbars along the coastal shelf. Slightly further out, there are steep canyons where any crustacean would drop into the jaws of dolphins and oarfish. (The highest radiation levels were found in on-shore samples of tall kelp of the Macrocystis fibrosisspecies and sea palm, or Eisenia arborea.)
The kelp on these sandbars are becoming increasingly toxic over recent years due to the bioaccumulation of radioactive isotopes carried by the California Current. Older stands of kelp, which naturally serve as a major food source for coastal species, now has an opposite effect of killing everything that comes into contact with it, from shellfish to higher species.
Radioactivity on the permanently underwater sandbars was confirmed by vast numbers of juvenile gastropod shells that washed up into the tide pools, many of them small enough to fit on a penny coin. The innumerable tiny cone-shaped shells of Conus californicus provide a telltale sign of offshore toxicity, since these predatory mollusks are concentrated on sandbars. Likewise. immature specimens of purple olive snails (Olivella biplicata), once used as shell money by Indian tribes, are also strewn in unusually large quantity over the beaches. There were a few Trivia solandri, a species of ribbed shell similar in appearance to a cowry.
The fat dog whelk (Nassarius perpinguis), a a snail with a fine-grained spiral shell, inhabits rocks at extreme low-tide mark, but I could no living specimens during the ebb flow. Small round shells of this type are now favored by hermit crabs,in the thousands, as mobile homes. A few immature abalone were still clinging to the rocks, and here also could be found anemones but these were torpid, failing to unfurl their flowery tentacles. I did spot one large sea snail at the outer edge of a far-out tide pool zone.
The wipe-out of invertebrates gets stunning in the mid-low tide zone, where living snails are absent and large shells, such as the once-abundant wavy turban (Lithopoma undosum) are now gone or broken. Only a few small samples of empty shells of unicorn snails (Acanthina lugubris) and festive murex (Pteropurpura festivus) were spotted.
In the shallows, there were only a few remaining hollowed-out spiral shells of Ocenebra circumtesta, which predated on the once abundant mussel beds, which have since been reduced to shattered opalescent half-shells. There were a few clumps of barnacles, which are actually a sessile crustacean.
Amid these sad pools, the most disturbing piece of forensic evidence was a warped purple scallop shell, probably a radioactivity-caused mutant. Its asymmetric form inspired the nickname Quasimodo, after the hunchback of Notre Dame. Several beachcombers told me that they have never before seen a misshapen scallop shell. Scallops attach to rocks as deep as 20 meters (70 feet) below the waves, indicating radioactivity is by now accumulating on the seabed of the continental shelf.
Domoic Acid Theory Aids Exploiters
The red crabs, which dwell in the benthic depths and also feed in open-sea pelagic zones, provide an invaluable periscope into the macrocosm of the Pacific food chain. The radioactivity levels in these crustaceans indicate nuclear-sourced contamination of the entire range of sea life from the tiniest microorganisms up to the largest of all animals, the blue whale. The pelagic crab deaths stand as incontrovertible evidence that the inter-species extinction event has origins in nuclear releases from Fukushima and also other leaking reactors at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon in Southern California, along with the Hanford Site and military nuclear waste dumped in the Pacific.
Against the slew of evidence on radioactivity as a primary cause of sea-life kill-offs, marine chemists at U.C. Santa Cruz have argued for domoic acid as the sole culprit. This propaganda campaign is no doubt egged on by federal funding agencies and private interests. In addition, the domoic theory has origins in Australia, where climate scientists support a proposed global carbon tax, to be globally administered by the Rothschild Bank. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on entering office, did what was required by ethics and accountability by axing 3,000 climate scientists on the government payroll who contributed to the financial scam.
The knowingly false domoic acid hypothesis is disproved by no less than the California Department of Public Health, which issues a monthly report on levels along this state’s coasts. At the height of the so-called El Nino scare in the summer of 2015, CDPH showed safe levels of domoic acid along the entire coast and did not issue any warning over the related threat of amnestic shellfish poisoning. Domoic acid enters the human diet via clams and mussels that consume the toxin-producingPseudo-nitzschia diatom.
The falsifiers at Santa Cruz have claimed that warmer waters generated by the 2015-16 El Nino caused massive blooms ofPseudo-nitzschia,a diatom, or microorganisms with a silicon exterior. The public health data maps showed that extraordinary blooms did not occur, despite the strong El Nino over the past 18 months.
According to meteorology consultancy Golden Gate Weather Service, it is an urban myth that El Nino automatically raises water temperatures along the California coast. This recurrent weather event is generated near the equator in the Western Pacific, at latitudes and longitudes far away from the North American coast and where dominant current moves in the opposite direction, toward Asia.
The “blob” of warm water that developed off the California coast over the past three years, which is possibly linked to the regional drought inland, is unrelated to El Nino. A much likelier cause was the build-up of a dense fog belt over the radioactive marine layer along the California Current. Radioactive isotopes in large quantity, especially in cloud-like conditions, generate heat and have electromagnetic effects that can influence affect rain patterns.
Nutrient availability is a far more probable cause than warm water for Pseudo-nitzschia blooms along the West Coast. The largest-ever domoic acid event occurred off the coast of Washington State in 2004, one of the two lowest-ever El Nino years. That massive bloom, some 30 nautical miles in circumference, was not the result of higher water temperatures.
What then could be the main cause of Pseudo-nitzschia blooms? Nitrogen. The California Public Health data-maps show a correlation of nitrogen sources (shipping and offshore oil platforms) with areas of domoic acid concentration.
The coast of Washington State is located at the collision point of the westward-moving North Pacific Current and the outlet of the inland Puget Sound/Salish Sea, two of the world’s most-heavily trafficked routes for commercial vessels along with cruise ships heading for Alaska. At that crux, the swirl of the Juan de Fuca Eddy acts as a trap for wastewater from bunker fuel tanks of commercial vessels, human sewage and garbage from Alaska cruise ships, and agricultural runoff, which all provide ideal conditions for growth of Pseudo-nitzschia. (Ammonia and related urea are readily soluble in water, which can collect inside bunker fuel tanks.)
As for concentration of domoic acid in Northern California, these include the maritime region between the Farallons and San Francisco Bay, a center for international shipping, where large container ships illegally empty their bilges and dump wash from bunker fuel tanks. In addition, agribusiness fertilizers in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers flow in the fresh water layer atop saltwater from the Bay into the Pacific.
The other major clusters of domoic acid off Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Newport Bear occur around offshore oil platforms that release natural gas as a waste product. An unwanted byproduct, that gas contains as much as 60 percent ammonia in total volume.
Of course marine scientists are aware of nutritional factors in diatom blooms. Blaming domoic acid on warmer water is a scandalous attempt to divert public attention from its origins in the dumping of waste containing nitrogen. The marine chemists and allied biologists are involved in pseudo-scientific exercise to misdirect public attention away from the corporate culprits, many of which are silent donors to the ocean-studies programs.
To cover their arrears when the stench of domoic acid theory wafts too far in the sea breeze, the UC Santa Cruz hustlers are rolling out seawater acidification and iron content as understudies for the villain’s role. It’s all sewage. UCSC is scurrying amid an ambitious capital-spending program to boost its marine sciences programs to swill at the NOAA and National Science Foundation trough. UCSC remains tight-lipped about their corporate partners, but they’re probably the same ilk as one of its major donors, Donald Rumsfeld’s Gilead corporation. The entire University of California system is up for sale to any and all bidders, now that the indebted state has reduced its funding appropriations. Shiftless survival by the sea is all so reminiscent of Cannery Row, not the marine samples lab of Doc Ed Ricketts but Dora Flood’s house of ill-repute.
It should come as no surprise that the marine biosciences are allied with the ocean-resource industries including nuclear power, offshore energy and shipping lines. Sanitized environmental-impact reports for these corporate exploiters provide lucrative income for consultant scientists and their research labs. BP and Shell Oil have promoted themselves as “green” corporations and maintain corporate partnerships with dozens of laboratories and environmental groups that promote diversionary climate-change scams, including the Earthwatch Institute and the UN Global Compact. The most laughable and sickening scam from the unethical marine-science fakers is how oil rigs are now being touted as “green reef islands”, a pristine paradise for sea life!
Saving What’s Left
Political leaders, high bureaucrats, corporate executives and international NGO heads have abysmally failed to save the seas. To the contrary, the self-appointed global elite are environmental felons. Marine biologists have insinuated themselves in a media role as protectors of the ocean, alongside various government agencies and those environmental NGOs that raise funds from “saving” baby seals and whales. None of these preposterous eco “defenders” bothered to show up for the do-or-die battle against radiation in the Pacific. Their self-interests are intertwined with the corporations that exploit the sea and contaminate the marine biological community. Legal immunity for the nuclear industry is a touchstone of that shameful alliance.
Rot fells the biggest trees. Fresh saplings grow from new seeds. It can only be hoped that biologists, environmentalists, regulators, funders, fishermen and citizens who refuse to pander their conscience to corporate interests should rally around an authentic movement to save the seas in desperate need of a human-aided transition toward a livable future on behalf of generations to come. Small yet genuine steps to save what’s left of life in the seas for the distant future, include:
– Removing older stands of kelp that have bioaccumulated radioactivity, drying these and burying it safely in barrels in isolated locations on land; and replace these with new kelp to absorb incoming radioactivity. Instead of being towers of radioactivity, managed kelp beds can act as life-saving filters for sand bars, tide pools and shores.
– Creating pockets of managed habitat for marine biological communities using aquaculture techniques and seawater filtered of radionucleotides. Biospheres cleared of radioactivity and chemical pollution need to created along shorelines, lagoons, estuaries, islands and atolls.
– Redesigning the concept and role of aquariums from marine circuses toward large-scale havens for marine species and outdoors fisheries, especially for breeding genetically diverse groups of endangered species.
– Collecting DNA, plankton larvae, eggs, tissue samples, and whole organisms, along with stem cell genesis, for cryogenic preservation in event of long-term contamination of the oceans lasting up to several centuries or even a millennium.
Pyrrhic Victory for the Crustaceans
The presence of hermit crabs and barnacles is a credit to their body armor, that thin hard layer of exoskeleton and stolen shell. As witnessed in the mass death of pelagic red crabs, however, the toughest and meanest crustaceans are themselves vulnerable to radioactivity via ingestion. By now, many of these invertebrates have suffered significant losses, for example, sand fleas and other bug-like decapods that dwell below ground at the waterline.
In my boyhood on the coasts of California and Japan, on either side of the Pacific, I dug out and de-shelled these juicy morsels as bait for surf casting. On those predawn expeditions, I’d also put a hogshead into a wire cage and heave the baited trap off a rocky jetty. Pulling up the heavy cage a few hours later, the haul was always a bunch of feisty big crabs for the boil. By comparison to those halcyon days of abundance, a now-radioactive Pacific Ocean is nearly devoid of life and poses an ever-greater health risk to surfers, swimmers, sailors and beachcombers.
After harvesting so much sustenance and enjoyment from the ocean, the cycle of destruction and renewal now requires that we return life to the seas. Our earliest ancestors and their descendants arrogantly abandoned their calling to stewardship, yet the choice remains, for we still have one last chance to revive the waters and land given to our care before the sand slips through our fingers and humankind, too, disappears.
Yoichi Shimatsu, a former editor with the Japan Times media group, is a science journalist who conducts research on radioactivity effects in the Fukushima region. His research and articles have helped to shut down the Rancho Seco and San Onofre nuclear plants in California. Photos by author.
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