Animals and Radiation

Animals are particularly susceptible to radiation exposure. New studies around the Chornobyl reactor accident site have found reduced numbers of certain species and impacts to genetics.



Anti-nuclear drum beat continues against Vermont Yankee

Thanks to Debra Stoleroff of Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance for sharing with us news of "three opportunities to keep the fact that Vermont Yankee is still operating in the public eye and to voice your opinion regarding this fact that Entergy continues to undermine Vermont's democratic process for its own profits; gambling away the health of people in VT, MA, and NH as well as our environment.   Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant remains an accident away from devestating the region."

Sat, Sept. 1: We Are Not Going Away Until VT Yankee is Shut Down and Safely Decommissioned With a Greenfield

Sat, Sept. 8: Our River Runs Through It Flotilla Down the Connecticut River to VT Yankee (see event poster, left, and SAGE Alliance website for details). A major theme of this flotilla is Vermont Yankee's negative impact on the aquatic ecosystem in the Connecticut River, as to fish species (as shown on the poster!)

Sun, Sept. 23: Burlington Friends Meeting at Vermont Yankee followed by NVCD at Vt Yankee

For more info., see Beyond Nuclear's NUCLEAR POWER website section.

The five member NRC Commission unanimously rubberstamped Vermont Yankee's 20 year license extension on 3/10/11, one day before the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. NRC Staff then finalized the paperwork on the rubberstamp a couple weeks later. Vermont Yankee and Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 are identidically designed: General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors.


'Severe abnormalities' found in Fukushima butterflies

By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes.

"It has been believed that insects are very resistant to radiation," said lead researcher Joji Otaki from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa.

"In that sense, our results were unexpected," he told BBC News.

The team concluded that this higher rate of mutation came from eating contaminated food, but also from mutations of the parents' genetic material that was passed on to the next generation, even though these mutations were not evident in the previous generations' adult butterflies.

The team of researchers have been studying that particular species butterfly for more than 10 years. They were considering using the species as an "environmental indicator" before the Fukushima accident, as previous work had shown it is very sensitive to environmental changes.


Fukushima vs. Chernobyl: How Have Animals Fared?

For a little bird, bee or butterfly trying to make it in the world, which is the worse place to land: Fukushima or Chernobyl? On the one hand, there’s the risk from the release of radioactive materials that occurred in Japan just over a year ago. On the other, there’s the threat of mutations from accumulated environmental contamination over the past quarter-century from the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine. New York Times


Bluefin tuna contaminated with Fukushima Daiichi cesium documented on U.S. West Coast

Bluefin tuna can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds. They can swim 45,000 miles in a 16 month time period.Common DreamsReuters, and the Guardian (including a videoof the Japanese government's response to the news) have reported that bluefin tuna which had migrated from Japan's east coast to the U.S. west coast tested positive for elevated levels of radioactive cesium in August 2011, about four months after massive radioactively contaminated water releases to the Pacific Ocean took place at Fukushima Daiichi. Bluefin tuna is a prized seafood. Although the levels of radioactive cesium-137 and cesium-134 are reportedly lower than Japanese and U.S. permissible levels for consumption, the U.S. National Academy of Science has long maintained that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how low the dose, carries a health risk of cancer, and that these risks accumulate over a lifetime.

The Reuters article gives the false impression that radioactive cesium-137 is somehow naturally occurring. While Cs-137 was released from atmospheric atomic bomb tests for decades beginning in 1945, and thus can be termed a part of "background" radioactivity levels, this should not be confused with "natural background," for atomic weapons blasts, and their radioactive fallout, are far from "natural." Cs-137, with a 30 year half-life and 300 to 600 year hazardous persistence, was released in large amounts by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, especially in March and April 2011. Cs-134, with a 2 year half-life (and 20 to 40 year hazardous persistence), contamination in bluefin tuna is unmistakably of Fukushima Daiichi origin.


"Uncanny Terrain," a documentary about organic farmers facing Japan's nuclear crisis

"Uncanny Terrain" is a documentary in progress, about organic farmers facing Japan's nuclear catastrophe. A Chicago-based, Japanese American film making team will spend up to a year in the radioactively contaminated regions of northeast Japan downwind of the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is still releasing radioactive steam onto the winds nearly five months after the radioactive catastrophe began. Fukushima and neighboring prefectures are famous for their small, family-run, independent organic farms. Husband and wife team Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski have already captured powerful video testimonies, such as of a dairy farmer, just 14 km from Fukushima Daiichi, who refuses to kill his herd, despite repeated orders to do so, as his "only protest against the government and TEPCO." The film makers are requesting monetary donations to enable them to continue their work.