A Berkeley nuclear engineering professor has dismissed a viral video which appears to show unusually high radiation readings on a beach in San Francisco, asserting it has no link to the ongoing Fukushima crisis in Japan.
The highly trustworthy folks at InfoWar are upset at Berkley Professor Edward Morse because he dismissed the one YouTube video that made the rounds a few weeks ago of a guy with a Geiger-counter getting higher than normal radiation readings off the northern California coast and claiming that it’s Fukushima radiation that has hit the west coast.
The video itself seems pretty compelling, and of course InfoWars was all over it.
I was indeed interested when the video in question first popped up on the tubes. I wondered if there would be a lot more videos popping up that would show similar results? But I lost track… Holidays and all that.
Now that the holidays are over, and I have a bit of time to do stuff, and since this new thing from InfoWars has popped up on the radar, I just googled the term “west coast radiation videos“… I’ll get to the results in a minute.
InfoWars, in their original story, provides a link to The Half Moon Bay Review, a newspaper from a coastal town south south of Pillar Point Harbor where the original video was apparently taken. Here is how InfoWars uses that link. They say:
Health officials investigated and confirmed the spike but said they were “befuddled” as to its cause, suggesting that “red-painted disposable eating utensils” may have been responsible.
And in the more recent story, InfoWars again uses that source, saying:
“In the following days, other amateurs with Geiger counters began posting similar videos online,” reports the Half Moon Bay Review. “The videos follow other alarming news last month that starfish were mysteriously disintegrating along the West Coast, a trend that has not been linked yet to any cause.”
First, Half Moon Bay Review does not porvide any links to more videos showing similar results, and neither does InfoWars. they only link to a paper tht says their are more videos out there but does actually SHOW there are more videos out there. And, for some reason, InfoWars neglected to show you the very next sentence that follows:
Past computer simulations had indicated that radioactive cesium-137 from the Fukushima reactors could begin appearing on West Coast shores by early 2014. Those findings, published in August by the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Spain, also noted that any radioactive material that crossed the Pacific would likely be diluted and fall below international safety levels.
Here are some more quotes directly from the Half Moon Bay Review that InfoWars neglected to show you:
“Government officials say they are looking into the video shot on Dec. 23 and performing their own sampling of the beaches, but they have found no indication so far that radiation levels were hazardous.
“It’s not something that we feel is an immediate public health concern,” said Dean Peterson, county environmental health director. “We’re not even close to the point of saying that any of this is from Fukushima.””
First posted last week on YouTube, the seven-minute video shows the meter of a Geiger counter as an off-camera man measures different spots on the beach south of Pillar Point Harbor. The gadget’s alarm begins ringing as its radiation reading ratchets up to about 150 counts per minute, or roughly five times the typical amount found in the environment.
And, the very next paragraph:
Counts per minute is a standard way for Geiger counters to measure radiation, but it does not directly equate to the strength or its hazard level to humans. Those factors depend on the type of radioactive particles and isotope.
And more from the Half Moon Review that InfoWars didn’t mention:
County health officials first learned of the radiation levels last week, and they sent their own inspector on Dec. 28 to Pacifica with a Geiger counter. Using a different unit, the county inspector measured the beach to have a radiation level of about 100 micro-REM per hour, or about five times the normal amount. REM stands for “Roentgen equivalent man,” a measurement of the dosage and statistical biological effects presented by radiation.
Although the radiation levels were clearly higher than is typical, Peterson emphasized that it was still not unsafe for humans. A person would need to be exposed to 100 microREMs of radiation for 50,000 hours before it surpassed safety guidelines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, he explained.
I added the OSHA link.
The enemy of InfoWars, Prof Morse, who’s resume includes a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering, probably knows a thing or two about this topic, said this:
Someone going around with a Geiger counter is likely to discover these great variations in levels from time to time,” said Morse, adding, “That’s absolutely no correlation with anything that happened in Fukushima.
Although TEPCO has indeed done a horrible job keeping things contained and being completely truthful, the Berkley professor is absolutely right. Background radiation levels will fluctuate. Here is what the EPA notes on their RadNet page:
Why are there fluctuations in the data?
Spikes in data can be caused by a variety of situations, including fluctuations in naturally occurring radiation levels like from radon, rain concentrating natural radiation, and changes in atmospheric (barometric) pressure.
Occasionally, you may see brief gaps in the data. Scientists remove any data points from the database that are caused by instrument error.
Larger gaps generally mean the RadNet monitor was temporarily taken offline for maintenance or repair. In response to the Japan incident, we have prioritized maintenance to the west coast monitors. Having a monitor offline is not cause for concern. Even if the closest monitor is not operating, the RadNet system as a whole continues to provide a national view of airborne radiation in the environment.
Why do I see higher levels of radiation at some monitor locations?
It is important to note that there are often large differences in normal background radiation across the nation. Background radiation levels depend on factors including altitude and the amount of naturally occurring radioactive elements in the soil. What is natural in one location may be different from what is natural in another.
OK. Since that video came out a few weeks ago, everyone and their mothers dog who is concerned about the repercussions of the Fukushima disaster has been, and are continuing to monitor the beaches all over the West Coast for proof that the radiation has finally hit the West Coast. And now… The results of my West Coast radiation video search????
Only one – that ONE video – showed up in my search.
Wonder why there hasn’t been a flood of other video’s showing the same results?
Because either it was a fluke – a random change in the background radiation, the guy is using the Geiger counter wrong, or, the guy, who
Further, InfoWars notes this:
However, officials dismissed the possibility that the readings could be linked to Fukushima radiation reaching the west coast despite forecasts by experts last summer that radioactive particles from Fukushima would reach U.S. coastal waters in 2014.
The link they provide brings you to an NBC story that says this:
Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016.
This was referenced in the half Moon Bay article. But, as is usual with InfoWars, they fail to provide equally important information relevant to the story. Here is the very next sentence:
Luckily, two ocean currents off the eastern coast of Japan — the Kuroshio Current and the Kuroshio Extension — has diluted the radioactive material so much that its concentration fell well below the World Health Organization’s safety levels within four months of the Fukushima incident. But it could have been a different story if nuclear disaster struck on the other side of Japan.
Funny that the reporters at the Half Moon Bay Review, a tiny newspaper that doesn’t make much of a profit, was kind enough to provide that information, yet InfoWars, a web entity that makes its creator Alex Jones MILLIONS, somehow neglects to point that out, even though it was featured in two of their sources.
The very sources they are using to try and scare you say the radiation has diluted and not something to worry about. Yet, InfoWars shares only the information in the articles it posts that THEY want you to know, and over and over conveniently fails to pass on the rest of the information contained within each of the links that diffuse the scary thing that InfoWars is trying to get you scared about.
This is a tactic they constantly use.
This is the exact same technique the US Government did ten years ago to get us to go to war and invade Iraq. If we don’t accept the use of misinformation from our government, why should we accept the same behavior from a slimy “news” outline on the internets???
As I have shown, although their content is TOTAL CRAP, the name of the website “InfoWars” is spot-on, as they do seem to be at war with information! 🙂