Energy Environment

Radioactive Tuna Report Debunked

Via ThinkProgress:

The team reported that a 7-ounce, restaurant-size serving of Pacific bluefin tuna contaminated with cesium at the level recorded in fish caught off the coast of San Diego in August 2011 delivered a 7.7 nanosievert dose of radiation — about 5% of the dose one would get from eating a garden-variety banana. Bananas contain a naturally occurring isotope of potassium, they wrote.

A hypothetical fisherman who consumed about five times as much fish as the average American would get… about the same amount of radiation a person receives when getting a dental X-ray, the team wrote. The increased probability of developing a fatal cancer for the hypothetical fisherman was 0.00002%, the equivalent of two additional cancers per 10 million people.

You know me: I’m greatly disturbed by the radiation draining into the ocean from the Fukushima powerplant. But this bluefin story sounded suspicious from the beginning.

Also, this map?

It’s not a map of the radiation basically consuming the Pacific Ocean. It’s a map of the wave height following the earthquake that caused the tsunami. Tell your Facebook friends to stop spreading it around. Not helpful.

  • Kitty Smith

    One wonders if it is the same people who believe in homeopathy. One accident means that the Pacific is RUINED FOREVER!

  • Richard_thunderbay

    Unfortunately, with topics like this, where people have a strong vested interest in pushing a particular point of view and there are genuine reasons to distrust the powers that be, there is an automatic tendency to jump on board the most extreme “sky is falling” story that anyone is willing to put out without bothering to check if it has any validity.

    The lies can come from both sides, and pushing a hoax, knowingly or unknowingly, can indeed damage your own cause. Recently over at dailykos, there has been a great deal of paranoia about some members being government operatives (needless to say, if you are critical of Snowden/Greenwald, the odds of your being accused of being an NSA sockpuppet are extremely high). The thing is, if I were a government or industry “mole”, and I wanted to spread dissension and damage the credibility of that site, this is exactly the kind of bullshit story I’d be breathlessly diarying about over there.

    • Felonious Grammar

      That’s always the person to watch out for in activist groups. If no one is planning on engaging in violence or other criminal acts and actively resists any attempt for any member to do so, then so what if there’s a government mole?

      Assuming anyone who disagrees is a government mole is childish and deluded. Guess they weed themselves out for people who have a more nuanced view of the world.

      It’s such a cheap and meaningless way for people to bond. sigh

  • muselet

    The “Hawaii Is Hot” post mentioned at the link no longer displays the NOAA wave-magnitude map. Instead, there’s a Google Earth image headlined: “Radioactive Seawater Impact Map (update: March 2012)”. Conspicuously absent is any scale. What level of radiation is represented by the various scary scary colors? I have no idea, which I can only assume is the point.

    Even less amusingly, the author of that post seems to have concluded that anything bad that has happened in the Pacific Ocean in the past 30 months or so is because of Fukushima.

    Some sources of information are more credible than others, especially on technical topics. When it comes to science that people find scary (radiation! boo!), credible sources of information are almost never guys who apparently live in lead-lined bunkers.


    • Bob Rutledge

      the author of that post seems to have concluded that anything bad that
      has happened in the Pacific Ocean in the past 30 months or so is because
      of Fukushima.

      The last time I was at the beach, I stepped on a sharp rock while walking in the surf. GODDAMN FUKUSHIMA!!!

  • Bubble Genius

    Everything’s poisoned from everywhere, sigh. The mercury in the goddamned stuff is already enough to fuck you up. At this point I’m eating what I like, since if I’m gonna drop dead from it, it might as well at least taste delicious. Sigh.

  • Felonious Grammar

    It’s a pretty big ocean, but one grain of plutonium would be all it takes to get cancer. There’s no accounting for the love of tuna, I suppose.

  • dbtheonly

    Like many, I thought Nano Sievert used to play 1st base for the Mets.
    It seems like you’ve found a career in debunking wild myth/conspriacy theories. Makes interesing reading & I doubt you’ll ever be stuck for material.

  • Robert Scalzi

    Sorry Bob , Pacific seafood is off teh menu – this story may be a hoax but we here on the west coast are seeing debris from Fukishima wash up on our beaches now – if you believe the fish is safe to eat be my guest – I for one am not taking any chances- if there is debris , what else is there ?? call me paranoid if you want I’ll be staying away from pacific seafood for the foreseeable future.

    • JimmyAbra

      I think that is his point. There are problems to be had but don’t use a hoax as evidence…it isn’t helping just giving fuel to the deniers.