Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Cairns Post Letters from the Wingnuts #21: Fukushima is still a long way away

It surprises me that it has taken until now to find myself typing the name Werner Schmidlin into a Letters from the Wingnuts post. Mr Schmidlin used to be a regular on the Letters page, particularly with misinformed claims denying climate change. He seems to have been quiet in recent times, but on Monday one of his letters popped up and caught my eye.
Fukushima fall-out heading our way

Why is the truth about the radiation coming from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor withheld from the Australian public?
That's not too bad a start, I guess. There are questions about the openness of the Japanese Government and the responsible company, TEPCO, in regards their transparency in responding to the ongoing problems at the plant. I don't think I would want to live in Fukushima prefecture.
A public health official detected increased radiation levels on a California beach showing radiation levels at about 500 per cent of normal levels. 
A YouTube video posted in late December showed a private citizen with a commercial geiger counter finding some elevated measurements on a beach in California. The video went viral, passed around by a credulous public and promoted by conspiracy theory radio shows and websites. I read about it online last week, and didn't really expect it to make it to a Wingnut's letter. If you wander round long enough with a geiger counter, you are sure to stumble across areas that are naturally above normal levels. Also, note there is a difference between normal levels and safe levels.

As would be expected when there is a public stir about such things, the California Department of Public Health and other bodies investigated, and they found that levels in the area were unusually high but still within normal variation. Samples were taken and analysed, and showed no link to Fukushima. As the International Business Times reports:
Dan Sythe, CEO for International Medcom, which designs and manufactures Geiger Counters, supported the findings.

"The radionuclides are in the NORM class of radioactive substances, not from Fukushima," Mr Sythe said. When he saw the video, he immediately asked a sample of sand from the beach  and had it tested. He said they are convinced whatever radiation levels found were not linked to Fukushima.

"The levels detected are about five to 10 times what you would normally expect to find on a beach," he said. "But if the sand were contaminated by radiation from Fukushima it would show cesium-137 which is reported to be the major health concern in Fukushima."

He said he got radium and thorium instead, which are naturally occurring radioactive elements.
Back to Mr Schmidlin's letter::
On the beach is exactly where you do not want to go, and it looks like the further from the Pacific Ocean you are the longer you are going to live.
Watch out Alice Springs, Werner is coming your way!
If this is not disturbing news, then I don't know what is.
Well, Mr Schmidlin, you don't know what is.
I'm absolutely amazed the media in Australia is not taking this up, and the Government is silent.
Needless to say, I'm somewhat less amazed.
One can only assume they don't want to frighten the public, but the truth will eventually have to come out. This disaster will eventually end up on the east coast of Australia. It seems that the Fukushima disaster is totally ignored by the powers that be worldwide.
Or perhaps they are relying on accurate information and analysis, and both we and the residents of California do not need to fear Fukushima on our trips to the beach. Heck, even most of Japan's beaches are safe.

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