In 2011, Japan’s nuclear agency raised the threat level of an ongoing radioactive leak at the paralyzed Fukushima Daiichi plant to a 7 on a 7-point scale. Officials said on Tuesday (August 2013) that a storage tank leaked 300 tons of radioactive water into the ground be.
Here are five things about the Fukushima radiation leak and related investments:
1. Investors in uranium are hurt:
The price per tonne of uranium has fallen since the Fukushima meltdown in March 2011, causing losses for those investing in uranium mining stocks. Germany’s shutdown of most of its nuclear reactors has pushed uranium demand to further lows.
How much radioactive material from Fukushima ended up in the ocean?
Scientists have measured that between 5,000 and 15,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material reached the ocean in 2011. The greatest threat came from the radionuclide cesium. The radionuclides strontium and tritium pose a greater hazard for spills entering the soil since cesium is absorbed by the soil but the other two are not.
A terabecquerel is 1 trillion becquerels, defined as the radioactive decay of an atomic nucleus per second; One sievert is a unit of biological radiation dose equivalent to approximately 50,000 anterior chest X-rays.
2) Nuclear utility investors are hurt:
Investors in nuclear assets have enjoyed a decent return on their investment over the past five decades, generally in the 10 to 12 percent range per year. The Fukushima incident did a great deal of damage to these investments and many of them fell by 30 to 50%. They can take years to recover, if they ever do. Some investors sold their stocks at a loss to switch to other investments and try a fresh start.
The Tokyo Electric Power Plant (TEPCO) estimates that between 30 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium leaked into the ocean and contaminated it for years, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.
The damaged facility continued to leak about 300 tons of water containing these radioactive radionuclides into the ocean every day in 2013, Japanese officials said. This enormous amount of radiation is poisoning the entire Pacific Ocean, which more than two million fishermen depend on to make a living and feed their families.
3) The fishermen’s livelihood was destroyed:
Millions of fishermen on the west coast of America, the west coast of Mexico, throughout Japan, Korea, the east coast of China, the west coast of Canada and the coasts of Alaska have seriously damaged their livelihoods as a result of Japan’s gigantic radiation poisoning of the Pacific Ocean. The majority of these fishermen who had invested their lives in fishing and invested several thousand dollars in their boats are now suffering huge loss of income and wasting money to make bank payments for their fishing boats. Many file for bankruptcy and work part-time jobs ashore to support their families. Pacific fishing, once a billion-dollar-a-year industry, has killed a million fishing families, a truly appalling development. Japanese fishermen who followed their fathers in the fishing industry were decimated by the massive pollution of the ocean across Japan.
How will the radioactive material affect marine life?
US scientists say groundwater leaks could get worse. Nicholas Fisher, a marine biologist at Stony Brook University in New York, told Live Science in a previous article. “But in the region, yes, it’s possible that there is sufficient contamination of local seafood It would be unwise to eat this seafoodsaid fisherman.
3) Force fishermen and women to stop investing:
Fishing families now have no additional funds to invest in other investments such as gold, silver or stocks. Some are losing the very house they have called home for the last 5-10 years as they default on their mortgage payments, a situation leading to major family displacement, depression and divorce. Christmas celebrations are bleak as families struggle to put enough food on the table each week. In some families, parents are forced to withdraw funds from their retirement accounts just to support the family.
4) Play the lottery:
As desperation gnaws at them, some fishermen spend a few dollars each week placing bets on their state’s lottery, praying and hoping for the big win that will lift their family out of the economic hole they’ve been plunged into became. It’s a long road, but someone wins every week, so more and more people are playing the lottery and chasing those one-in-a-million odds even though it’s taking dollars from their meager budgets.
5) Millions of farmers lose money from contaminated crops:
Farmers in Japan have suffered greatly as the majority of their crops have been radioactively tested and unfit for market. Farmers in the United States’ largest growing region, central California’s famed San Joaquin Valley, have had to spend thousands more per farm to implement containment strategies to protect their produce and cleanse them of residual radiation particles. Dairy farms in Hawaii, the western United States and Canada have found radiation particles in their milk and have been forced to dispose of thousands of gallons of waste. These farmers struggle every month to grow their crops contamination-free. Therefore, investments of time and money in their farms are now questionable if the crop yields pay back more than the annual expenses. Some have switched to growing crops in greenhouses to provide some level of protection. Even so, tiny particles of radiation get into the water source and are picked up by plants even in greenhouses, so the problem persists. Many of these farmers are now struggling to make mortgage payments on their farms and ranches and to pay wage laborers. Only time will tell how badly this radiation exposure affects the millions of people living near the Pacific.