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Over the past number of months I have been writing short diaries to combat what I see as a continuous stream of misinformation present online concerning the likely impacts of Fukushima radionuclides on the west coast. I have endeavored to present information that is peer-reviewed in open-access journals and to summarize new data coming out of a Canadian lead monitoring program in the northeast Pacific. In a piece published today on the website Energy News (link) the anonymous author accuses me of being inaccurate in my diary of Jan. 4, 2014 as follows:

In addition, the figures provided by the professor appear to be inaccurate:

1.  According to the source document, it’s Cs-134, not Cs-137, that measured 0.9 Bq/m3 (or 0.0009 Bq/L if you modify the units like the professor)..

2. The professor writes that in June 2013 there were “lower levels of 0.0003 Bq/L toward the coast” — This amount is not in the  measurements for 2013, the only mention of it was in 2012: “Levels of 137Cs equal to 0.3 Bq/m3 measured at Sta. P26 in 2012.”

My purpose in writing here is to point out that these statements by Energy News are incorrect.  Rather than refer to my primary source of information which can be found here they disingenuously point readers to their own incomplete and misinterpreted summary of the presentation given by Dr. John Smith and others on October 15, 2013 at the 2013 Annual PICES Meeting held in Nanaimo BC Canada. They did not contact me before posting this story and I have asked them to retract it without any response to this point. I respond specifically to their inaccurate points below the fold.

The numbers I have provided in my diary and referred to in interviews with various media outlets are accurate. Slide numbers refer to slides in the original presentation which I summarized in the diary and can be found here.

With respect to the accusation from Energy News that

1. According to the source document, it’s Cs-134, not Cs-137, that measured 0.9 Bq/m3 (or 0.0009 Bq/L if you modify the units like the professor)..
Fact: Both Cs-134 and Cs-137 were measured in all years (2011-2012) at all stations in the North Pacific shown on slide 11 of the presentation.
Stations sampled in June 2011, 2012 and 2013 in the subarctic northeast Pacific for Cs-134 and Cs-137
Cs-134 was below detection limit (0.0001 Bq/L) in 2011. Cs-134/Cs-137 in the initial release was ~1 according to Povinec and others (2013) Biogeosciences and references therein. Cs-134 detected in 2012 and 2013 was decay corrected to the time of the accident to determine the amount of Cs-137 that was detected in seawater owing to Fukushima release. Cs-137 activities that I reported are shown in the following figure on slide 14 of the presentation and shown for reference here:
Cs-137 activities measured in June 2012 ~1500 km offshore at Station P26 in the subarctic northeast Pacific
With respect to the accusation by Energy News that
2. The professor writes that in June 2013 there were “lower levels of 0.0003 Bq/L toward the coast” — This amount is not in the  measurements for 2013, the only mention of it was in 2012: “Levels of 137Cs equal to 0.3 Bq/m3 measured at Sta. P26 in 2012.”
Fact: Cs-137 levels of 0.0003 Bq/L were measured toward the coast in 2013

Shown here is slide 16 from the original source which summarizes the concentration of Fukushima derived Cs-137 along Line P in June 2013 which is reported to be <0.0005 Bq/L at Station P1. The actual value, according to the scale, is 0.0003 Bq/L and is the value that was measured at the site and reported by me in my diary.

Energy News did not bother to contact me to discuss my diary. I fully expect them to retract or correct their incorrect reporting. They actively contribute to misinforming the public by choosing to post such poorly researched and inadequate work.  I have formally asked them to remove their story (link) earlier this morning.  As of 1332h PST it is still up.  What is a scientist to do Kossacks?

Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM PT: I received the following reply from Energy News to this detailed diary that completely refutes their story.  They still refuse to retract their misinformed, poorly researched piece.

This was the response I received from Energy News in response to this post.  Judge for yourself how intellectually honest it is:

Energy News (anonymous) says
"Hope this address is suitable, I was unable to find one in your messages from today. I thought it would be best to address this via email, rather than on social networking sites.

I've been away from the computer for the last few hours and saw your various accusations of being dishonest, misleading, etc.

Yet, after making time this evening to review your recent postings,  I've come across no evidence that the issues raised in the report on ENENews are incorrect.

Please take the time to read this carefully and respond appropriately, as the statements of yours that  I've read thus far make it rather clear that you have not grasped the specific issues that were raised about your Jan. 4 diary.

Though, I appreciate you pointing out the error in the link for the source document. It has been updated and goes directly to the .pdf file.

Issue #1

You stated in your Jan. 4 diary:  “Fukushima derived Cs was detected all the way to the coast in June 2013 with the highest levels of Cs-137 farthest offshore (0.0009 Bq/L”

My response to this statement: “According to the source document, it’s Cs-134, not Cs-137, that measured 0.9 Bq/m3” on Line P in June 2013.

Your response:  “Both Cs-134 and Cs-137 were measured in all years (2011-2012) at all stations in the North Pacific shown on slide 11 of the presentation.”

Unfortunately your response does not address my statement. No facts are provided to back up your Jan. 4 statement that Cs-137 at 0.9 Bq/m3 was detected on Line P in 2013.

Your Jan. 4 statement specified these three elements -- Radionuclide: Cs-137; Concentration: 0.9 Bq/m3; Year: 2013

To back up your claim made on Jan. 4, provide the exact location in the Smith et al. (2013) source document where it shows Cs-137 was detected at 0.9 Bq/m3 on Line P in 2013.

It’s a very specific issue that requires only the relevant quotations from the source document. No lengthy reply is needed.  

I trust that if you are not able to provide the exact location of those elements in the source document, you will correct the diary which asserts I’ve mislead readers. If you do provide me with the evidence requested, I have absolutely no problem correcting any errors.

Issue #2

You stated in your Jan. 4 diary: “in June 2013 […] Cs-137 […] of 0.0003 Bq/L toward the coast” was detected on Line P.

My response to this statement: “This amount [i.e. 0.3 Bq/m3 of Cs-137 toward the coast] is not in the measurements for 2013, the only mention of it [i.e. 0.3 Bq/m3 of Cs-137] was in 2012: ‘Levels of 137Cs equal to 0.3 Bq/m3 measured at Sta. P26 in 2012.’”

Your response: “Cs-137 levels of 0.0003 Bq/L were measured toward the coast in 2013 -- Shown here is slide 16 from the original source which summarizes the concentration of Fukushima derived Cs-137 along Line P in June 2013 which is reported to be <0.0005 Bq/L at Station P1. The actual value, according to the scale, is 0.0003 Bq/L and is the value that was measured at the site and reported by me in my diary.”

Again, your response does not address my statement. In your Jan. 4 diary, you make the specific claim that 0.3 Bq/m3 of Cs-137 was detected in 2013.

The source document states “Distribution of 137Cs from Fukushima on Line P in June, 2013 shows values < 0.5 Bq/m3 at Sta. P1.”

The source document does not specifically state that the Cs-137 amount is 0.3 Bq/m3 as you did in your Jan. 4 diary. Rather it states the Cs-137 as a range of less than 0.5 Bq/m3.

To back up your claim made on Jan. 4, provide the exact location in the Smith et al. (2013) source document where it shows Cs-137 was detected at precisely 0.3 Bq/m3 toward the coast on Line P in 2013. If you are simply guessing the amount is 0.3 Bq/L based upon the color scale, that would not be at all precise or scientific.

And again, it’s a very specific issue that requires only the relevant quotations from the sole document you cited as a source, Smith et al. (2013).
 It's about 10p here but I'll be up for a few more hours. I look forward to your reply."

My response in addition to this diary was:

"Hi Enenews,

Please see my detailed response here:

http://www.dailykos.com/....

Issue #1.  Cs-137 and Cs-134 were measured on all cruises from 2011 to 2013.  Look at slide 16.  Cs-137 from offshore to inshore showing exactly the concentrations I report.  I can give you a table of values if the figure is too hard to interpret. The Figure on slide 16 shows Cs-137 of 0.0009 Bq/L at station P26 offshore and Cs-137 of 0.0003 Bq/L at station P1 inshore

Issue #2 Same as #1.  The numbers in the figure are the numbers we measured and agree with the 0.0003 Bq/L.

Please retract your story.  It is factually incorrect and dishonest."

Originally posted to MarineChemist on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 01:42 PM PST.

Also republished by Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs and SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I have seen several diaries citing them (14+ / 0-)

    It does not take scince training to recognize that they tend to be alarmist and prone yo push CT or near CT. Those who are fond of such sources probably won't welcome your counter information, but at least the casual reader seeking info who see the sciency-y seeming evidence they present might find it less persuasive.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 02:00:54 PM PST

    •  Hubby calls it "scientistic" n/t (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, Lujane, duhban, walkshills

      They don't win until we quit fighting!

      by Eyesbright on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 04:31:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  On the other hand, it's a scientific fact that (7+ / 0-)

      TEPCO and Japan have been caught repeatedly lying about, well, actually, everything connected with the disaster. 'CT' can also stand for 'Coincidence Theory' and sometimes that's the really whacky version of reality.

      Given the lying history around Fukushima, and the industry in general in the US and around the world, and its more vocal defenders, it really shouldn't be thought odd that people are skewed toward 'great suspicion.' Trusting the nuke industry would be the odd and inexplicable thing.


      Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

      by Jim P on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:01:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh Gawd, best of luck (10+ / 0-)

    Whole lotta faith-based "science" that floats around here.
    I've pretty much given up.

  •  You should post a comment on their site (5+ / 0-)

    to correct any factual errors they made. The site is mostly a news aggregator, so it is not likely that they would contact you about a critique of your statements, when you can simply publish your own correction on their site.  

    Why did you choose to convert the measurements to the much smaller looking Bq/L units?  Do you have any response to their criticism of your unsupported assertion that  “the natural level of radioactivity on average in the oceans is about 13 Bq/L, against which radioactivity resulting from human activities and disasters should always be discussed.”

    You have been informed multiple times that background radiation from natural sources is not relevant to the problem of bioaccumulation or in general to the problem of cumulative additional risk from additional exposure to radioisotopes. Generally that sort of argument is only made by apologists for the nuclear industry, bananaphobics, or others who want to deceptively downplay the risks of contamination from man-made radioisotopes.  

    •  Hi Sandio (7+ / 0-)

      I converted to Bq/L because I think that a litre is a more accessible volume to think about, corresponding to individuals experience with milk cartons for example, when compared with a cubic meter.  The flip side of using Bq/m^3 would have been to report natural and fallout background numbers of 14,000 which might be viewed as making the background values look artificially high.  The take-home message is that radioactive Cs levels (which are about 50-fold higher than elements like Sr-90) are less than 1/1000th of a percent of background and 1.3% of Cs-137 levels present from weapons tests in the mid-1960s.  Owing to decay Fukushima Cs-137 is about 50% of the fallout background in 2014. Environmental and health effects of radionuclides on the west coast will therefore not likely approach what effects were present in the 60's.

      I discuss the Fukushima numbers in terms of background because the impression is that there is a highly radioactive plume of water approaching the west coast.  This is not so.  The sum of all radioisotopes in seawater here from Fukushima is on the order of a mBq/L. Trying to measure 1/1000 disintegrations per second from Fukushima with a handheld detector relative to 14 disintegrations from background (acknowledging differences in energy emitted) doesn't work.

      You are incorrect to state that background levels are irrelevant when it comes to discussing bioaccumulation or cumulative dose.  At the levels being measure and accounting for bioaccumulation someone consuming great quantities of contaminated fish (~25 kg/year) still receives 3-4 orders of magnitude more exposure from naturally occurring Po-210 than Fukushima derived isotopes link.  These exposure levels, including Po-210 exposure, are still in the 0.5 mSv range for a year which would require 200 years of consumption to aggregate to the 100 mSv doses where statistically significant impacts are measured.

      •  While I can see your points (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Sandino

        I personally don't think there's enough data yet to come to any conclusions about eating fish, one way or another. We need a lot more sampling done than is being done now.

        Helping a food pantry on the Cheyenne River Reservation,Okiciyap.

        by betson08 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 02:58:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think the issue is bioaccumulation. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino

        Our bodies have adapted to excrete the naturally occurring isotopes which comprise the majority of the background exposure. Many scientists consider comparing natural isotopes to man-made isotopes to be an apples/oranges thing.

    •  Hi Sandino (6+ / 0-)

      Forgot to mention that I tried to register with them to post a comment like the one in the diary very early PST this morning.  Still haven't received the automated email reply with my username and password. And I still haven't said anything about bananas.

  •  There is big money behind (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, walkshills, northsylvania

    knocking down nuclear as an energy source (both the coal and oil industries compete with nuclear). That is the likely true source of all of the alarmist info saturating the interweb. Good on you to continue to try to inform people with facts.

  •  Keep up the good work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills, northsylvania

    But don't expect no apologies.  There are a ton of folks who far too invested in both the Nukes are safe and Nukes are gonna kill everyone tomorrow sides of the debate.  In a perfect world, they will both attack you.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:32:23 PM PST

  •  They probably won't bother to fix it. (5+ / 0-)

    There's some good stuff at ENE News but a great deal of it I put in my "make sure you verify this with 20 different sources before you react" pile.

    Incidentially I think you're going a good thing here, although I suspect the Rox/Suxx crowd that exists on the nuclear energy side would prefer you weren't neutral. But both sides should know by now science doesn't always give one the answers one wants to hear. I'm glad the debate isn't ugly here; Andrew Thaler's marine science groups apparently is getting death threats.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:52:27 PM PST

    •  Hi terrypinder (6+ / 0-)

      Thanks for reposting I really appreciate it.  I don't think my views on the industrial side are particularly relevant.  I do think the only way to describe the release to the environment is as a disaster.  I appreciate the tone of the debate here and am generally impressed with the knowledge and experience of Kossaks. I agree with you that a source of record Energy News is not. I don't expect them to respond. But these sort of misrepresentations are difficult to ignore and have the potential to make people doubt, fear and make poor decisions.

  •  If they've misrepresented you, that is unjust. And (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarineChemist, walkshills

    it appears they have.

    You can post comments attached to the related story to correct that, I'm pretty sure.

    As to Enenews, it's an aggregator. If it was a rare (if ever) editorial that misrepresented you, they should print a retraction. If it is an article they gathered elsewhere, they should remove it.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 04:42:32 PM PST

  •  Thanks to hipparchos (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alx9090, duhban, walkshills, kurt

    for posting a link to this diary on the Energy News site.  They still haven't taken it down and haven't yet provided me with a username and password to post a link or comment myself.  I've noted some Kossacks over there posting.  Thanks again hipparchos.

    hipparchos
    January 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm Log in to Reply   

    Jay Cullen has responded to the factual inaccuracies of this article, and has requested that enenews.com take this article down.

    You can read Cullen's correction of the inaccuracies in this article on his Daily Kos blog posting, here:
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  Hi all, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    This was the response I received from Energy News in response to this post.  Judge for yourself how intellectually honest it is:

    Hope this address is suitable, I was unable to find one in your messages from today. I thought it would be best to address this via email, rather than on social networking sites.

    I've been away from the computer for the last few hours and saw your various accusations of being dishonest, misleading, etc.

    Yet, after making time this evening to review your recent postings,  I've come across no evidence that the issues raised in the report on ENENews are incorrect.

    Please take the time to read this carefully and respond appropriately, as the statements of yours that  I've read thus far make it rather clear that you have not grasped the specific issues that were raised about your Jan. 4 diary.

    Though, I appreciate you pointing out the error in the link for the source document. It has been updated and goes directly to the .pdf file.

    Issue #1

    You stated in your Jan. 4 diary:  “Fukushima derived Cs was detected all the way to the coast in June 2013 with the highest levels of Cs-137 farthest offshore (0.0009 Bq/L”

    My response to this statement: “According to the source document, it’s Cs-134, not Cs-137, that measured 0.9 Bq/m3” on Line P in June 2013.

    Your response:  “Both Cs-134 and Cs-137 were measured in all years (2011-2012) at all stations in the North Pacific shown on slide 11 of the presentation.”

    Unfortunately your response does not address my statement. No facts are provided to back up your Jan. 4 statement that Cs-137 at 0.9 Bq/m3 was detected on Line P in 2013.

    Your Jan. 4 statement specified these three elements -- Radionuclide: Cs-137; Concentration: 0.9 Bq/m3; Year: 2013

    To back up your claim made on Jan. 4, provide the exact location in the Smith et al. (2013) source document where it shows Cs-137 was detected at 0.9 Bq/m3 on Line P in 2013.

    It’s a very specific issue that requires only the relevant quotations from the source document. No lengthy reply is needed.  

    I trust that if you are not able to provide the exact location of those elements in the source document, you will correct the diary which asserts I’ve mislead readers. If you do provide me with the evidence requested, I have absolutely no problem correcting any errors.
    Issue #2

    You stated in your Jan. 4 diary: “in June 2013 […] Cs-137 […] of 0.0003 Bq/L toward the coast” was detected on Line P.

    My response to this statement: “This amount [i.e. 0.3 Bq/m3 of Cs-137 toward the coast] is not in the measurements for 2013, the only mention of it [i.e. 0.3 Bq/m3 of Cs-137] was in 2012: ‘Levels of 137Cs equal to 0.3 Bq/m3 measured at Sta. P26 in 2012.’”

    Your response: “Cs-137 levels of 0.0003 Bq/L were measured toward the coast in 2013 -- Shown here is slide 16 from the original source which summarizes the concentration of Fukushima derived Cs-137 along Line P in June 2013 which is reported to be <0.0005 Bq/L at Station P1. The actual value, according to the scale, is 0.0003 Bq/L and is the value that was measured at the site and reported by me in my diary.”

    Again, your response does not address my statement. In your Jan. 4 diary, you make the specific claim that 0.3 Bq/m3 of Cs-137 was detected in 2013.

    The source document states “Distribution of 137Cs from Fukushima on Line P in June, 2013 shows values < 0.5 Bq/m3 at Sta. P1.”

    The source document does not specifically state that the Cs-137 amount is 0.3 Bq/m3 as you did in your Jan. 4 diary. Rather it states the Cs-137 as a range of less than 0.5 Bq/m3.

    To back up your claim made on Jan. 4, provide the exact location in the Smith et al. (2013) source document where it shows Cs-137 was detected at precisely 0.3 Bq/m3 toward the coast on Line P in 2013. If you are simply guessing the amount is 0.3 Bq/L based upon the color scale, that would not be at all precise or scientific.

    And again, it’s a very specific issue that requires only the relevant quotations from the sole document you cited as a source, Smith et al. (2013).
    It's about 10p here but I'll be up for a few more hours. I look forward to your reply.

    •  My response was the following (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills
      Hi Enenews,

      Please see my detailed response here:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      Issue #1.  Cs-137 and Cs-134 were measured on all cruises from 2011 to 2013.  Look at slide 16.  Cs-137 from offshore to inshore showing exactly the concentrations I report.  I can give you a table of values if the figure is too hard to interpret. The Figure on slide 16 shows Cs-137 of 0.0009 Bq/L at station P26 offshore and Cs-137 of 0.0003 Bq/L at station P1 inshore

      Issue #2 Same as #1.  The numbers in the figure are the numbers we measured and agree with the 0.0003 Bq/L.

      Please retract your story.  It is factually incorrect and dishonest.  

      Regards,

      Jay

  •  Oh come now, Jay. (0+ / 0-)

    Your professorial nose gets bent way too easily. Enenews is an aggregator site, with occasional admin-generated observations in the short synopses offered to the links. Sources may or may not be solid, that's for the reader to decide. By going to the links. Comments may or may not be useful or utterly inane, depends on the commenter. Sort of like here, but with a lot more tin foil. [Shrug.] It's not that difficult to gage what a website is and who participates, deal or not deal accordingly. Are we not adults?

    You wanted to argue in your original diary when I pointed out the error you believed Buesseler couldn't possibly be wrong about. Polonium-210 is #10 on the list, not #1. I even explained WHY it's always going to remain down the list. This was information you didn't previously know, but I did. You just believed what Buesseler said, and I called you - and him - on a very obvious error. That has since been corrected. Good, it's the right thing to do.

    You also wanted to argue that cesium can't bioaccumulate because it's biological half-life was too short. Despite my offering of link upon link to research into the long-known phenomenon of cesium bioaccumulation. I'm glad you're thinking differently about that now too.

    You chose to change the m3 designation to Bq/L in your presentation enenews took issue with, you say because liters are more familiar to people. That's garbage when talking about the volume of the Pacific Ocean (people don't drink it, you know), and pretty much the same thing as throwing curies, becquerels, cpm and sieverts vs. rem around just to confuse things. Because that kind of confusion has worked so well for so long to keep people overwhelmed with factors of ten in All Things Nuclear.

    You did say that strontium would be an issue if there were any, which you didn't look for in your samples, presumably because your 'helpers' in the nuclear industry claimed there wasn't any. We all know better than that now, don't we?

    You've been selling a deception that both the nuclear industry and the governments of more than a few nations (including ours) wish to spread widely in order to save important industrial/food supply segments of their economies. The deception will end up killing people, though everyone in industry and government who knows that is willing to absorb the population losses over time. Depersonalizing it statistically - what industries and governments do with "Cost-Benefit Analyses" - doesn't make it less of a moral and ethical offense. But you (and all the oceanographic et al.s doing the sampling/testing work) didn't even do that much. You've simply asserted that it's not dangerous and will probably never be dangerous. To anyone or anything.

    There is no 'scientific consensus' about this. Many scientists and engineers with as many or more sheepskins as you say just the opposite. Who is the public supposed to believe, and what makes that belief anything other than mere belief-in?

    We NEED someone to keep close track of the contamination, and we NEED our government agencies to protect us from the damage it will cause. We need factual data and honest assessments from people who know, on both sides of the 'consensus' divides for all of it. Attempts to deceive us into happily eating high-level nuclear waste for dinner just might motivate us to decide for ourselves that we don't NEED any of you.

    I am not eating Pacific seafood anymore. Others all over the world may decide they won't eat it either. Our choice. Telling us we're stupid for not eating it is pointless. Deliberately deceiving us is infuriating. You will have to grow a thicker skin if you want to sell deceptions for a living, because there are lots of folks out there who will take issue.

    I'm one of 'em. And just so you know, I am not enenews.

    •  Hi Joieau (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau

      Thanks for your comment and advice. Based on my interactions with colleagues, neighbours, friends, and family people seem to want to know what the concentrations of these radionuclides are in the north Pacific Ocean. There is broad agreement that the concentrations and the chemistry of these radionuclides determine the extent to which they can be harmful to the environment and living things.  For us on the west coast the most likely route of exposure is through the ocean. I will continue to work towards a more robust marine monitoring network and report accurate values as they become available. Cheers.

      •  I dearly hope and... (0+ / 0-)

        dare I say? ...trust you will. That's what we NEED you to do, and you are qualified to do it. We all thank you for that, honestly.

        Let the erstwhile 'experts' in health physics and radiation issues debate the details of harm vs. no harm. You don't have to play that game at all, as your expertise in gathering the data is plenty enough to be thankful for. And I am.

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