Over the past several months the world nuclear industry has launched yet another of its perpetual propaganda campaigns to diminish public concerns about nuclear power in general - and Fukushima's Daiichi disaster in particular. Ostensibly for the purpose of convincing the public to invest trillions of dollars in about 4,000 new nuclear power plants to replace dirty coal as the world's #1 energy source. Which, we are told, is the only way to mitigate human contributions to global warming.
In order to accomplish this dubious goal, public attention and concerns about the ever-ongoing - and now worsening - disaster at Fukushima Daiichi must be diverted and/or dismissed. Deal is, the public isn't very trustful of nukes these days, so they have enlisted scientists and academics for the task.
For the current PR campaign the nukes and their several influential lobbying groups have enlisted some notables in fields related to global warming. Because global warming is the new nuclear selling point (they think). They apparently believe the public will suddenly demand more nukes if a James Hansen or a Ken Buesseler can be convinced to weigh in with flippant dismissals of public concerns. As if climate scientists and oceanographers are nuclear 'experts' or something (they are not). Just as bad, for every scientific bigwig recruited for the PR campaign, colleagues in their fields can be expected to join the effort.
A consistent theme in this project coming from academia has been a mischaracterization of actual versus perceived risks from radioactive contamination escaping in increasing amounts from the Fukushima Daiichi reservation into the Pacific Ocean and concentrating in its food chain. And while it is true that the public isn't very adept at putting nuclear concerns into proper perspective, they have earned their distrust (and sometimes fear) of the nuclear enterprise the hard way. Nukes have no one to blame but themselves for that.
You can't spend decades deliberately terrifying whole populations with threats of Total Nuclear Annihilation at any moment, then expect the same populations to gladly accept potential nuclear annihilation just up the road when/if the nuclear plant they never wanted melts down and explodes. Worse, since the end of the good old Cold War we now have whole huge departments of government fear-mongering the horrific threat of "terrorists" (a fluid designation) exploding your basic pressure cooker IED downtown into which they've inserted a stolen (or just purchased) radiation source. Your so-called "Dirty Bomb."
So it seems pretty ridiculous to now complain that people's concerns about radiation in their air, food and water from gigantic melting, exploding reactors are "overblown." As if gigantic melting, exploding reactors are somehow harmless (they are not). And yes, "harmless" is a word Buesseler actually used in his pro-nuclear fluff piece. And they wonder why people are skeptical. Oy.
If average members of the public are unable to "properly" weigh the risks of things nuclear, it is because they have been carefully taught NOT to "properly" weigh the risks of things nuclear by a culture of coordinated lies that has dominated this technology from its beginnings. The risks don't become greater or lesser just depending on whether they're wanting to terrify you today or sell you new nukes instead.
The health risks have always been relative to the dose and rate of exposure, the type and energy levels of the emissions, and the type of exposure (internal or external). People paying attention tend to understand this. Risks of turning whole swaths of countryside and important water sources (and now even oceans ) into Dead Zones also need assessment. Which is difficult if a nuclear government, following the directives of a desperate industry, refuses to acknowledge that there even IS a Dead Zone (and thus cheating the displaced out of proper compensation). These are the types of important information people need to properly assess the risk, so these are the types of information most subject to deceptions.
Another useful tactic is distraction. We see this on a daily basis as we follow the political circus, so we Kossacks are more cognizant than most people of how this works. The PR sleight of mind surrounding Fukushima Daiichi is an excellent example of real world, deadly serious propaganda. What we are getting is a patronizing lecture on what poor risk-assessors we are, using data from the original 2011 Fukushima disaster - and tuna estimated to have spent exactly 1 month of their lives feeding off Japan before migrating to California - to diminish concerns about the current 2013 Fukushima disaster.
The failure of water containment is indeed a new disaster, by the way. IAEA informs us that it's been a Level 3 on the INES scale for the past few months, but the contamination levels are going up almost daily. It will go higher.
Japanese nuclear officials admit that the 'river' of groundwater flowing beneath the facility and into the ocean is picking up contamination from the three ~150+ ton coriums that used to be reactor cores in plants 1, 2 and 3 at Daiichi. Neither the contaminated groundwater nor the contaminated coolant water in the now-leaking tanks ever came in contact with spent fuel assemblies in the elevated SFPs [Spent Fuel Pools]. It's purely corium contact contamination. Which is worse than what's loose in the SFPs (that we know of), and presenting a different level of threat than the airborne releases of 2011. The risks to be assessed are different.
Nobody's going to drop dead of radiation poisoning by tuna sandwich. So weigh your risks and decide for yourself - extra becquerels of cumulative internal dose in an already radioactive world (plus mercury), against that tasty tuna. It's perfectly alright to simply say no and eat the salad instead (which has its own risks these days, a whole other subject). Pay only as much attention to authoritarian paternalists as they deserve, and no more.
All anybody really needs to know in the context of the current PR campaign is that the levels of cesium - and now strontium and a host of other nasties - in seafood that has been contaminated by living or feeding off Fukushima is going up and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is not going down. Despite the deceptions in this PR campaign, the contamination levels in the ocean off Daiichi are NOT the same now as they were in 2011. The risk profile has changed significantly.
Proper assessment of relative risk MUST be based upon information as accurate and up to date as possible. Unfortunately in this particular situation, we are being fed disinformation designed to manipulate our choices. Radioactive elements will continue to accumulate in the ocean off Daiichi for the foreseeable future, as there are no efforts in place to stop the outflow of corium-contaminated water. Decide for yourself how much risk you want to take.
Bottom line: We're on our own. We must seek out accurate information if it's out there to be found, or assess our risk in the dark. So while it's good to keep in mind that your tuna sandwich presents far less of an immediate risk of sickness/death from radiation than it presents for choking or bad mayonnaise, that does not mean low-level exposures to radioactive contamination are "harmless."