Hokkaido Seaweed, how contaminated is it really?

Added: !!!–>  1/19/2014:  My own Lab data are in, see the Summary @ http://wp.me/puwO9-2rz  Radioactivity was due to NATURAL factors.  I leave this blogposts as-was.}

— —- —

DISCLAIMER —  As I mentioned in the previous post about Japan’s new State Secrecy Act, I wonder if out-loud questioning of Japan’s food safety could be considered ‘problematic’ somehow.  Sure hope I’m not ‘risking arrest’ for asking questions… 

As a word of caution: I’m NOT an authority on this matter, nor a nuclear expert.  Read my DISCLAIMER.  I will however sent some samples to a lab and get to the bottom of this: whether the heightened radiation (mainly in Hokkaido kelps) is just natural, or truly from nuclear contamination.   I’ll find out.

Sure, the seaweed industry is gigantic, especially in Hokkaido, supplying all of Japan and much of the world with Kelp and TONS of various other normally-healthy nutricious deliciousness.  It’s a multi-million dollar industry.  I really do not want to ruin anyone’s livelihood, but…, if it’s radioactive beyond the set norms (100 Bq/Kg Cs-137, etc…), It shouldn’t be for sale as food, or at the very minimum it needs to say so on the packaging with a warning, so the most vulnerable (babies, children, highly sensitive,…) can avoid it.  I highy doubt that food under that limit can set a Geiger Counter off the way it does here.

I was appalled at finding for-sale seaweed being apparently capable of sending my MedCom Alert Inspector from 0.135 µSv/hr to 0.832 µSv/hr on contact with the package…

Click Image for a little background on why that is far more troubling than it looks.

Click Image for a little background on why that may be more troubling than it looks.  Background radiation was about 0.135 µSv/hr.

And also by finding seaweed in far-away Kyoto and Nara, with triple background radiation levels in seaweed, again: most of it from south-eastern Hokkaido.    Appalled to the point of not wanting to eat it…  ;-(

And then remains that still-unacknowledged fact that there were new fission criticalities this summer 2013, with unknown releases into the air.

Meow. Data Please. Transparency Please. Honesty Please. Freedom of Press Please. Meow
(click image for video)

As I entertain the delusion of having your attention, dear Japanese Government:  Can you (please please please) post a link to the various seaweeds’ radioisotope-analysis results, from the hundreds of samples your Food Safety Monitoring Team (I know, I have a vivid imagination…) must have tested daily in the last 2.5 years on the coastal regions of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi, and particularly for the Hokkaido Prefecture coast where so much seaweed comes from?  (Shall I hold my breath?)

See, even if you have just 50 test locations along these vast coastlines, and even if you just test weekly and not daily, there would now be at least 6500 test results just for seaweeds.  Where are they?

I did find data about some Hokkaido Cod (a fish) with a combined Cs-134 + Cs-137 at 78 Bq/ kg, just below the max limit, but where’s the published data on the seaweed tests?

W H E R E   I S   I T ?   Please don’t tell me you’re not even bothering…  I really would love to see what’s in those cracklingly radioactive health foods I keep finding all throughout Japan.

[!!!–> Added: Finally found them, see blogpost January 13, 2014: According to Japanese Lab tests, Japanese seaweeds are perfectly safe.]

Is it safe?  I don’t believe that it is safe anymore, but I know that it would require lab tests (which can easily take 3 weeks and are damn expensive) for scientific quality reliable test results.  Most of the seaweeds that measured beyond “unappealing to eat” (more than double background radiation I consider rather unappealing) seem to come from an area that may have been exposed to a rather predictable (what the denial-afflicted TEPCO-aligned Japanese government calls “想定外” (out of the ordinary, unexpected)) steady ocean stream of nuclear power generation side-effects…

Like… Okay, here (shown below), when I look at the south-east coast of Hokkaido in the first 6 seconds of this below model simulation (the kind that assumes that the leaking stopped in late March 2011 (a TEPCO / Japan Government deception admitted to have been a LIE, as of August 2013), which is followed by levels near Japan dropping quickly in the simulation.   Leaking didn’t stop… So perhaps the elevated radioactive contamination levels off Hokkaido didn’t drop either?  Fissioning didn’t even completely stop…   That’s not a “state secret” too, is it?

Wondering how radioactive my food in Japan is, is not a treasonous, inflammatory, ridiculous question to ask, is it?  I mean… I find radioactive seaweed from primarily Hokkaido, I try to find out why that may be so, I find simulation maps that hint of the reason, I try to find data on radiation is seaweed from that region and… I can’t find anything?  Who thinks that would somehow be reassuring?  Am I spreading “baseless rumors” here?  Think my Geiger counter is somehow “anti-Japanese”?    Seriously, it is not, and neither am I.  This is concerning and it absolutely normal for anyone who loves seafood to be told the truth, regardless of how depressing that truth may be.  We have a right to know.

Look at these two screenshots of this German modeling (study: GEOMAR July 2012);  I’ve circled the Hokkaido coast:

Click to watch

According to this highly underestimating 2012 (outdated, the actual situation is likely much worse) simulation, the area with heightened contamination levels happens to be where much seaweed comes from, the southern and south-eastern coast of Hokkaido, producing massive amounts for both for Japan’s domestic markets, as well as for exports.

Click to watch the animation on YouTube:

Click to watch

See what I mean?  Both at 5 months and at 15 months, in this model (modelled – not confirmed measurements!), there’s higher radioactive particle levels in the waters off south-eastern Hokkaido, more so than at other Japanese coasts.  I’m pretty good at finding stuff online, even in Japanese with the aid of Google Translator, but I’m not finding the tons of seaweed tests results for Hokkaido.  I’ll gladly rewrite this to include the findings… (Please leave a comment with a link to such 2013 data) –  Meanwhile I wonder…


YUMMY!   But is it safe?  I WILL find out!   —  Photos © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.

Delicious seaweed from Hokkaido, for sale in awesome Kyoto… Can’t tell the radiation level by looking at it, can you? Still tastes great, but what’s inside… since the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear melt-throughs?  Are the test results being suppressed?    (I bought the shown packages.  See next blog post for test results of 10-minute CPM averages.)

It’s so weird… I’ve literally walked around in stores (about a dozen times so far) and, using my Geiger Counter, selected the most radioactive seaweeds I could find, and (without showing my Geiger Counter) asked where it was from, and bar none, I’ve always gotten this smiley ‘Hokkaido’ answer.  I really really do not like this.  It was for a long time one of Japan’s most pristine coasts.  ‘Hokkaido” is a quality label!   But IF (not certain until proven!) if it is true (that many of that coast’s products are radioactive far beyond set safety standards), then that needs to be known.  I’m very deeply disturbed by this possibility.  

{Added 1/19/2014:  My own Lab data are in, see the Summary @ http://wp.me/puwO9-2rz  }

I’m sure most Japanese consumers would agree to find it far worse to saddle the next generation up with various cancers, depleted immunities and possible offspring with birth defects.  I’m thinking particularly of young children who are far more susceptible to damaging health effects from radioactive fallout.  It’s just not okay to suppress this information.  It’s unacceptable to turn a blind eye to the rising presence of nuclear industry pollution, even if that were to threaten an important food source.  And given the fact that I have shared my suspicion and concern openly, I will also publish lab test results when I get ‘m.  Those will prove what is the actual cause of these heightened Geiger Counter readings.

I’d love to see some transparency.  More testing, and more independent oversight to make sure no tampering is happening is the testing process seems a must.  A little more vigilance towards food safety would go a long way…

See also:

And see the Nuclear Tab for more, including access to Radiation Monitors Worldwide, and a handy Radiation Units page.


{Added 1/19/2014:  My own Lab data are in, see the Summary @ http://wp.me/puwO9-2rz  }

(Couple edits made and links added in spring 2014.)

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