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No, Radiation from Fukushima has NOT Killed Hundreds of Whales

Outline
Circulating message couched as a news report claims that hundreds of whales have been killed by radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. The report features a photograph showing dead whales on a beach.

Japan map fukushima radioactivity sign illustration

© Depositphotos.com/ Tomasz Pacyna



Brief Analysis
The claims in the story are outright lies. There are no credible reports of large numbers of whales dying from Fukushima radiation. The image used in the articles shows pilot whales stranded on a New Zealand beach in 2010 and has no connection whatsoever with the 2011 Fukushima meltdown. While the potential effects of the Fukushima disaster are of significant concern, spreading lies and misinformation about the issue is counterproductive and irresponsible.

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Example

Fukushima Disaster Leaves Hundreds of Whales Radiated to Death

Whales
The Scene Near Fukushima Today – Killed by Nuclear Radiation

Reporting from the village of Fukushima I was shocked to find on my arrival that hundreds of whale carcasses were found along the beach early this morning which now extend up and down the shore as far as I can see.

The scene is absolutely devastating especially since no word of this latest crisis has been reported to the Japanese people or to the rest of the world. In fact the Japanese government has remained silent about today’s latest events.

Read full text (http://nationalreport.net/breaking-fukushima-disaster-leaves-hundreds-whales-beached/)


Detailed Analysis


According to a report posted to various "alternative" news websites and messages circulating via social media, hundreds of whales have been killed by radiation leaked from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. The stories feature a photograph depicting a number of dead whales on a beach. The picture supposedly shows the "scene near Fukushima today".

However, the claims in the report are deliberate lies. While there is a great deal of information about the Fukushima disaster and its potential effects on the environment, there are no credible reports at all that support the claim that hundreds of whales have died due to radiation from the plant.

And the image depicting dead whales - which comprises the only evidence of the alleged event presented in the report - has no connection with Fukushima whatsoever.

In fact, the image shows pilot whales stranded on a beach in New Zealand. And the event occurred in August 2010, months before the March 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

Ironically, the websites that publish this and similar reports promise readers "the truth" but in fact peddle outright lies. The author of the report obviously took an image from an unrelated news site and made up a story to go with it just to further his own political worldview or simply to get more website hits. It is both irresponsible and counterproductive to spread lies and misinformation about a disaster of international significance such as Fukushima. Such deliberate lies spread fear and alarm and needlessly muddies the water surrounding the issue.

Recent news reports have certainly raised alarm, with revelations that up to 300 tons of radiation contaminated water has been leaking into the sea near Fukushima every day. The long-term effects of this contamination remain somewhat unclear. So how dangerous is it? Boston.com notes:
The main health concern is the impact on fish near the nuclear plant. Scientists have long believed that contaminated water was reaching the ocean, based in part on continuing high levels of radioactive cesium found in fish living at the bottom of the sea. A rise in strontium-90 and tritium levels in the past few months needs to be watched, said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Strontium in particular accumulates in fish bones and remains longer than cesium in fish and the humans that eat them. The fisheries off Fukushima are currently closed.

There have also been a number of panicky reports proclaiming that radiation from Fukushima has or soon will be causing significant problems in the United States. However, MSN News reports:

Radioactive fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be hitting the shores of the United States in 2014, about three years after a tsunami and hurricane damaged the plant. But experts tell MSN News that any waste reaching the states should be completely harmless.

"Yes, we do expect radioactive material to reach the U.S. coast by March 2014, but the concentrations in the water are more than a thousand times less than what is considered safe drinking water by the World Health Organization," said Erik van Sebille, lead author of a study tracing the radioactive fallout from the disaster. 

Stars and Stripes notes:

Most scientists who have been monitoring activity at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant say the current radioactive outflows do not pose a significant health risk beyond the surrounding prefecture and its waters — but a lack of data on some isotopes and an uncertain containment solution have those scientists less sure about the long-term risks.
The Fukushima disaster and the possible long-term effects on the environment are certainly of concern, not only to Japan, but to the world as a whole. And that is why it is vital that discussions of the issue use verified facts rather than lies, hearsay and misinformation.

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Last updated: September 5, 2013
First published: September 5, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Dozens of whales die after 58 are stranded on New Zealand beach
Fukushima Leak Upgraded To Level 3 Severity
Japan's radioactive water leaks: How dangerous?
Fukushima Meltdown Has Not Polluted the Entire Pacific, No Need to Panic!
Rumor: Fukushima radiation to hit US by 2014
Scientists say Fukushima danger limited -- for now
How Is Fukushima's Fallout Affecting Marine Life?