The Death Of The Pacific Ocean
Fukushima Debris Soon To Hit American Shores
By Yoichi Shimatsu
Hong Kong-Based Environmental Consultant
Former General Editor Japan Times Weekly In Tokyo
An unstoppable tide of radioactive trash and chemical waste from Fukushima is pushing ever closer to North America. An estimated 20 million tons of smashed timber, capsized boats and industrial wreckage is more than halfway across the ocean, based on sightings off Midway by a Russian ship’s crew. Safe disposal of the solid waste will be monumental task, but the greater threat lies in the invisible chemical stew mixed with sea water.
This new triple disaster floating from northeast Japan is an unprecedented nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) contamination event. Radioactive isotopes cesium and strontium are by now in the marine food chain, moving up the bio-ladder from plankton to invertebrates like squid and then into fish like salmon and halibut. Sea animals are also exposed to the millions of tons of biological waste from pig farms and untreated sludge from tsunami-engulfed coast of Japan, transporting pathogens including the avian influenza virus, which is known to infect fish and turtles. The chemical contamination, either liquid or leached out of plastic and painted metal, will likely have the most immediate effects of harming human health and exterminating marine animals.
The toxic mess won’t stop at the shoreline. Many chemical compounds are volatile and can evaporate with water to form clouds, which will eventually precipitate as rainfall across Canada and the northern United States. The long-term threat extends far inland to the Rockies and beyond, affecting agriculture, rivers, reservoirs and, eventually, aquifers and well water.