Debunked: "Fukushima released up to 100,000 times more cesium-137 than Chernobyl or nuclear weapons"


Senior Member. headline from November reads "Fukushima released up to 100,000 times more cesium-137 in surface ocean waters than Chernobyl or nuclear weapons testing"

Is it true? No.

The source is the Woods Hole Oceanographc Institute which published an article in their Oceanus magazine addressing the Fukushima radiation in the Pacific. It has too many juicy quotes for them to cherry-pick to support their fantasies that Fukushima is the worse thing ever. Some quotes can easily be taken out of context. They provided an infographic that has been clipped and used by the fearmongering websites. They all seem to miss the part that says "measured in the 1960s off Japan". That should have keyed them into something not being quite right with their cherry-picked quotes because the nearest nuclear weapons testing site to Japan is over 2000 miles away.

So how much radiation did nuclear weapons testing dump into the oceans? The IAEA studied this and published their results in 2005.

Page 8 (pdf page 15) has a tabulation of total radioactive releases, how much landed in the oceans, and how much was still there as of 2000.

948 PBq of Cs-137 was created by nuclear weapons testing. 603 PBq landed in the oceans. 310.6 PBq of that landed in the Pacific Ocean. Due to Cs-137's half-life of 30 years, by the time of Fukushima there was still 99.8 PBq in the Pacific. It is estimated Fukushima released 15~30 PBq of Cs-137. So Fukushima increased the Cs-137 content of the Pacific Ocean by 15~30%.

"But it's still leaking!1!!"

There is still so much Cs-137 in the Pacific that 7.2 TBq of it decays every day. Fukushima is leaking about 10 MBq per day now. The leak would have to be 720,000 times larger just to maintain the amount of Cs-137 in the Pacific.


Senior Member.
WHOI, faq's....

Will radiation be of concern along U.S. and Canadian coasts?
Levels of any Fukushima contaminants in the ocean will be many thousands of times lower after they mix across the Pacific and arrive on the West Coast of North America in 2014. This is not to say that we should not be concerned about additional sources of radioactivity in the ocean above the natural sources, but at the levels expected even short distances from Japan, the Pacific will be safe for boating, swimming, etc.
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