Japan’s Nuclear Problem: The Radioactive Fears

The real fear everyone has always had about nuclear power was the waste. The troubled Japanese nuclear power plant, Fukushima Dai’chi, is dumping radioactive materials into the neighboring sea to dispose of it. This has raised a few alarms, but there is not much to worry about right at this time.


The sea water spreads the radioactive materials a long way, but also dilutes them in the process. The radiation level for Iodine (I-131) and Cesium (Cs-137) drops to about a thousandth once it moves about 20 miles offshore, according to Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachussets.

The saving grace for the marine life around Japan is the powerful Kuroshiro ocean current, which blocks the contamination from moving southwards and thus affecting life in Tokyo Bay.

The release of the wastes into the sea is really the best possible alternative, given the fact that sea water has been seeping into the nuclear plant ever since the tsunami and the slightly radioactive water needs to be released so that room can be made for storing the more radioactive of the wastes.

Effect on sea-life:

Experts claim that the effect on the surrounding sea-life given the current state will be minimal. There will, of course, be an increase in the radiation levels, but this increase is not dangerous. Most marine creatures, especially fish, are fast moving and thus they will not be exposed to radiation continuously for a long time. The animals are expected to cope with the increased levels.

Effect on sea-food lovers:

The risks of genetic mutation rapidly go to zero as one goes even 5km offshore. Even within this ‘danger zone’, the radiation level is not high enough to worry genetic experts enough. Fishing in this region has been disallowed. Sea food, whether being consumed inland or exported, will be checked for radiation levels for quite sometime.

Experts measured the radiation levels on the Western coast of USA (California) and reported a minor nuclear fallout, but this is nothing very serious.

The situation, at the present, doesn’t look too bad and it is not expected to worsen much.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.