The WaPo says: “We can probably start to relax about radioactive seafood”

The Washington Post recently printed another fifth anniversary of Fukushima story. Once again, here are some problems with the article:

1. The title: “With Fukushima’s fifth year anniversary approaching, we can probably start to relax about radioactive seafood”

This is another poor title. We can “probably start” to relax about eating fish with radiation levels well under ten to twenty times lower the US, EU or Japanese safety guidelines? These levels were also found over two years ago so “start to relax” makes no sense.

2. “Now, with the fifth anniversary approaching, new research may allow the public to breathe a little easier over the state of its seafood.”

The same problem as with the title. The “breathe a little easier” comment is typical of all too often alarmist, unscientific statements from journalists that we have gotten since the accident.

3. The recent study was trying to model radiation levels that were far under safety concerns where the EU and US regulations are already very conservative. The journalist wrote: ” Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s official safe level was 500 becquerels per kilogram (it was lowered after the incident in order to reassure consumers that their food was being monitored closely). And in many other places around the world, the safe limit is set at 1,000 becquerels per kilogram or higher..”

She does qualify they are at low levels but might have noted that the level was cut by more than half to 200 becquereles per kilogram — an unreasonable low level of safety.

4. The journalist quotes an American marine biologist who has been interviewed at times on NPR, etc. since 2013. She paraphrases at the end that: “Discussions surrounding the plant tend to skew very dire or very optimistic, he pointed out. The reality is that things are still “somewhere in the middle between those extremes.”

But this also doesn’t make sense. Nobody has been discussing a “very optimistic” scenario for cleaning up Fukushima as the marine biologist stated. There is also no ” somewhere in the middle between two extremes.”

Instead, the clean up at Fukushima has been proceeding uneventfully with no risk to the public.

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