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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/15/13

The Pacific Ocean Does Not Belong to Japan: It Belongs to All of Us

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Reprinted from WATERTOWN TAB, page B4, Friday, December 13, 2013.

All of the world's oceans are connected to one another; there is only one world ocean. A fifth-grade student looking at a world map can easily see this. So when we talk about the Pacific Ocean being contaminated by Fukushima with radiated water, we are saying that all this radiation is flowing into our one world ocean on a daily basis, with no end in sight. Whether we say 300 tons of radiated water have been flowing into the Pacific Ocean every day since Fukushima, March 11, 2011, or whether we say 83,000 gallons/day of radiated water -- an incomprehensible amount of poisoned water is flowing into our one ocean.   

Some may argue that Japan has a territorial right to the waters off its shores. The definition of territorial waters is as follows   "Territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, [1] is a belt of coastal waters extending at most 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) from the baseline (usually the mean low-water mark) of a coastal state. The territorial sea is regarded as the sovereign territory of the state" 

Since the radiation in the ocean from Fukushima flows way beyond the territorial waters of Japan, why are the nations of the world allowing Japan and TEPCO to have total control over what happens?   We must all have a say about Fukushima and radiated water flowing into our one ocean. Can the people of the world find a way to take control away from Japan and TEPCO legally now and have an independent international team of experts give their brains, hearts, and souls to the job?

Some participants of the weekly vigil at the Japanese Consulate in Boston
Some participants of the weekly vigil at the Japanese Consulate in Boston
(Image by Photo courtesy Sheila Parks)
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On December 1, 2013 Arnie Gundersen ( said, "Dale Klein [the former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the current chair of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee -- an advisory board to TEPCO] is now suggesting that we're just going to take [Fukushima's radioactive water] and pump it into the Pacific. And I don't think that's a very good idea. It's cheap and it's fast, it's the expedient way of doing it, but really there's something called the London dumping convention. And back in 1972, Greenpeace was very active in preventing radiation from being dumped into the ocean and to my way of thinking, this would violate the London Dumping Convention if they did it."   See the interview and transcript with Gundersen, and this particular question to him and his response at 4:10 minutes.    

Here is the London Convention aka Marine Dumping law and also note the 1996 protocol  On ABC News on November 20, 2013, Klein said, "At the end of the day, when the water is discharged, it will be released in a way that it's diluted."   A few questions for Klein:   What do you mean specifically by "diluted"? The ocean cannot dilute radiation. Please give us hard, cold evidence that what you call dilution is possible. Many scientists state that this is not true.

With the disintegration of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, many kinds of wildlife are strangely dying and disappearing from the Pacific Ocean, in places as far away as Hawaii, Canada and southern California. For example star fish, sea lions and Pacific herring are having nightmarish problems:

mass-die-off-of-starfish-on-canadas-pacific-coast-theyve-disintegrated-now-theres-just-goo-left-appeared-to-melt-arms-just-detach-single-arms-clingi ;;

The Ocean is Broken , October 18, 2013, is a narrative by and about a sailor, Ivan Macfadyen, crossing the ocean from Melbourne, Australia to Osaka, Japan and from Osaka to San Francisco.

"" The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen" In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes""

John LaForge, co-director of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin , tells us, "Japan has decided that fish contaminated with fewer than 100 Becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of cesium-137 is good enough to eat. Some local officials have set a stricter bar of 50 Bq/kg.

"In the U.S. the permissible level of cesium in food is 1,200 Bq/kg. Canada allows 1,000 Bq/kg. The difference is startling. The huge discrepancy allows importation by the U.S. and Canada of what Japan considers highly contaminated fish, vegetables and meat. Rice, fish, beef and other Japanese exports poisoned by nuclear power's single worst nightmare is doubtless being consumed in the United States."   It is unfathomable that the US and Canada have set the bar for permissible cesium in food to be lower than Japan. However, there is never any permissible level for any country to allow cesium in our food.

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Sheila Parks, Ed.D., is a former college professor. She had a spiritual awakening many years ago and left her career to do peace and justice work full time. She is the founder of the grassroots group On Behalf of Planet Earth (found on FB). (more...)

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