A day in the life of a Fukushima researcher
By Christina Consolo
I had no idea when I started learning about the Fukushima disaster that it would turn into, at times, a 16-hour-a-day gig, leading me through a winding path of several thousand research articles, research papers, historic evidence, political cover-ups, and a radio show to try to help others learn about it too.
Now I am writing articles for End the Lie, doing the show twice a week, doing interviews, fallout forecasts (latest here), fielding questions, assuaging fears, encouraging camaraderie, and creating an image database of mutation pictures.
And little did I know my days would be spent answering emails, phone calls from the sick and scared, talking to the occasional industry insider who wants to chat, and investing in expensive radiation monitoring equipment.
And, I would do all this for free, because it’s that important.
But the “Fukushima experts” I’ve mentioned before know exactly what I’m talking about. Because we see the same numbers, listen to the same interviews, read the same articles, and miss the occasional good night’s sleep when the reactors are steaming or the radiation levels go up.
But the nuclear-corium rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than any of us thought.
Take for instance, last Thursday when the radiation levels in South Bend Indiana went up to 7,000 cpms. Ouch.
4 ½ hours later I shut my laptop to get some sleep and thought to myself, okay, get some rest now because who knows what will happen tomorrow. We have to pace ourselves, because we are going to be at it, well, forever really.
That whole previous day had been a cluster of TEPCO-camera weirdness and debris of megalithic proportions.
It started at 8:00 am when I came across a video in my YouTube feed of steam or smoke pouring out of the area around reactor 3 and 4 that morning in Japan. This led to a rapid check of radiation levels around Japan, and wind maps and precipitation forecasts for Tokyo. All was clear at the moment, I made a mental note to go back later and check again. It’s not like the Japanese government is going to put out an alert, they never do. I made a big pot of coffee.
When I opened my email I had 4 new submissions from people finding mutations in their gardens, even some from Croatia. I started the downloads to put them on Mutation Watch and Tumblr. When I went to post on Facebook, I had 56 new questions, comments, private messages overnight. How long had I been asleep? 8 hours. Good. Need to keep the immune system healthy.
I start to go through the emails. A number of them were people who had seen the recent forecast I did about tsunami debris. It was apparent this was the first real news they came across on Fukushima in a year. “What can I do?” Wrote a young mother who had just recently learned about radioactive tuna and the tsunami debris in the past week.
The last thing I ever want to do is scare people, the topic is scary enough. I spent the next hour writing back to her, in the most basic, non-threatening way I could. Which is basically something along the lines of, “All radiation is bad, and anyway you can cut down on it is good.” Because that really is what it boils down to.
You don’t have to be a scientist, physicist, or have any special education outside of knowing how to mitigate, with a basic understanding of why you need to do it. This makes the fact that this has been hidden from us even more frustrating.
I sent her a couple videos, and told her she was much more in control of this than she thought. The scary part is having to find this out from a total stranger on YouTube or Facebook, instead of our government, your public health nurse, your doctor or the major broadcast media outlets.
I told her what I tell everyone, to feel free to share any of my stuff, anytime, anywhere on social media. Last week one of my Facebook pages alone reached 42,000 people this way. And that is just one Facebook page run by one person.
An email from a pre-Fukushima friend caught my attention next. 7000 tonnes of radioactive waste was buried under the London Olympic site. I thought, you have be f–king kidding me. Some days it feels like you just can’t get away from this stuff, no matter where you are.
I read the article (twice) and checked some references. I was going to need to get this information out somehow, and decided to work it into the next forecast. Kill 2 birds with one stone. It’s a time-management issue at this point, and the day is ¼ over already.
The next article sent to me was about a 66-ft long dock that washed ashore in Oregon overnight. This was the largest piece of tsunami debris yet. For more info on the tsunami debris which will continue to hit the west coast see my last article for End the Lie.
My concern was that volunteers for the cleanup would be possibly subjected to harmful substances or radiation, and they would not be provided with the proper equipment of Hazmat training (just as was the case with the 9/11 first responders).
Sure enough, the first image I see with the article is of people climbing on the dock and rubbing it or touching it with bare hands, and no masks. Tragic, really.
I posted this story on Facebook, which started a thought provoking yet humorous discussion. Sometimes us Fukushima experts need to have a little fun, blow off a little steam, after all this is heavy stuff to deal with day in and day out.
The comments quickly turn to DU contamination on Navy ships and shooting ranges. I find a video of Leuren Moret checking high geiger readings of one of these ranges in Hawaii where DU is supposedly never used. Onto the next item.
I pull up the Fukushima camera to make sure it’s not still smoking, steaming, or something even worse. It’s not. I then remember that I have to recheck the levels in Tokyo at some point.
I post a few news stories, answer some comments, and post the rest of the mutation pictures. Then I answer some questions from Jules, my co-host on Nuked Radio, about tomorrow’s show.
We have a confirmed guest, who we both adore: Drew Lamb (who has also appeared on End the Lie Radio). Drew lives in Oregon and is one of the people that randomly wrote to me a few months back out of the blue.
He has been monitoring radiation levels religiously. He has a friend that works at Hanford who clued him into some things. He is greatly disturbed by what he found.
He is also from a family with farming background and the newest mutation images are bothering him a lot. But Drew is way ahead of the game, because he realized he could do something.
He is starting an aquaponics business, and since the last time we had him on the show he bought a warehouse, got the permits, brought together some friends with ideas and began research into farming in fallout. In the past few weeks he has been building 4000 gallon fish tanks, harvesting seeds with good genetics, and researching. He is also buying bugs and baby fish for the massive operation.
Furthermore, he is selling his other business, which was property management, to do this full-time. Fukushima has changed his life as well, but he is happy. He works in his greenhouse, finds content in his new direction, and constantly learning, creating, and sharing as he goes.
Even with the realization that his life may be shorter because of Fukushima, he is now living a better quality of life, which he knows will greatly help other people as well, even if most of them don’t know it yet. His phone, however, has been ringing off the hook since the tuna reports came out on mainstream news, and I expect this trend will continue.
I finish up the emails and make the daily earthquake map check, which is a huge issue with the reactor #4 situation. I notice two big ones in the last hour in Japan. Crap.
I post it in a few places and put on another pot of coffee. The kittens sit in the kitchen lined up waiting to be fed. The orange kitten, which had a mutated twin, is almost twice the size of his brother and sister. I wonder what’s going on there. Other than that he seems like a happy a goofy ball of fluff.
I remember I need to email the researcher who wants the mutated kitten in my freezer, about transport issues. It’s not every day you find yourself mailing a frozen possibly radioactive mutant kitty somewhere.
The kitten clearly exhibited the same mutations seen in Chernobyl and DU children in Iraq (quoting Leuren Moret), deformed feet, no eyes, an extra appendage growing out of its face.
I worry humans are next. The sense of urgency about this drives me to push on.
It’s a beautiful 80 degree sunny day, and my youngest daughter wants to go to the pool. I forget, sometimes, that I have a family. I grab my notebook, Geiger counter, and a pen. I remember I need to buy more baking soda for the girls to wash up with after they swim.
An hour and a half later, we are back, and its 6:30 pm. I get back on the laptop. I have to do a forecast, and upload it to the radio station and YouTube.
Every weather map I open is bleak: rain, storms, hail, and high readings again in St. Louis in dry air.
This is going to take longer than I thought. I download some London footage. Write out the forecast. Find some music (500 Days of Summer to offset the complaints I got two days prior for using the Beastie Boys) and drop everything into Camtasia.
While it is loading, I check Facebook again. 36 messages in the past two hours alone. One email that catches my eye is an enormous fish kill that happened a few hundred miles from St. Louis the days previous to high readings. Interesting.
Chiba, Japan has a huge fish kill too. Officials are saying possible high radioactive contamination for that one. I don’t hold out hope that the DNR will make any such correlation here in the US. If anything, it would probably be the last thing they consider, or ever admit to. The Tokyo fish kill is termed “Apocalyptic” by the Japanese news agency that reported it.
When I post it on Facebook, a reader carelessly responds, “Is this really apocalyptic?” I write back, “Well, if you are a sardine, then yes.”
Patience. I have to fight the urge to want to grab people by the shoulders sometimes and scream, “Wake up!”
The instinct of self-preservation is not as prevalent as one would think. They will know eventually. We are in big trouble from a multitude of things: Corexit, oil-contaminated seafood in the Gulf, Synthia, radiation, fracking, and GMOs, to list a few.
Instead, I post the mass animal deaths link for 2012 so far. There are over 100 cases. Enough said.
I finish editing the forecast 2 hours later. It turns out pretty good. I’m hoping it will go viral with “radioactive Olympics” in the title, to reach more people.
Sometimes I can’t believe it’s been 15 months and it’s still the same group of people trying to warn about this, along with a few more recruits.
As the video uploads, my back starts beginning to spasm. It’s been a long day. The pool helped, even though it was only for a little while and I had my Geiger running the whole time, you have to take a break from this stuff once in a while. Otherwise, it will eat you alive.
My inbox flashes, something urgent. I remember the steaming reactor from earlier. But it’s not that. It’s a new problem.
The message says, “7000 cpms in South Bend, Indiana.” Typo? No. I see it on the page for myself. Malfunction? Usually they only last a few minutes. This one has been going on for half an hour already. The video is finished uploading, I post it around, check the radiation network: 5325 cpm. This is going on a long time.
I open a few windows and start chatting with other people watching this. No one can reach the station. 3040 cpms. Then 1,340 cpms. I start looking through the NRC event notification page, nothing posted from any nuke plants in the area. The wind direction suggests it could be Palisades. I make my first ever call to the NRC hotline.
“May I ask how often you check these readings?”
“Is this for work, or is this a hobby of yours?”
“You could say that.”
“What, that it is for work or a hobby?”
Is this guy for real?
I tape it, make an alert video, and then hold it for 2 hours while I watch the levels. It goes back up to 7,000 cpms. This is nothing to screw around with. I post the video. “Just in case, stay inside, shut your windows.”
Is there a connection to the high numbers emerging from St. Louis? The fish kills? Trouble is, there are so many nuke plants around me unless one fesses up to a problem, you aren’t going to know which direction to run. So, we would have to stay put.
By now its 3:30 am, and although the numbers are still high, they are decreasing overall. I decide to go to bed, but by the time I finish up with the other concerned Fukushima experts, its almost 4:30 am. Someone takes the station offline.
The next day, I find out the alert was “probably” a false alarm. Although its humorous to me that the same day I found out there were 7000 tonnes of radioactive waste buried at the Olympic site, there is a 7,000 cpm alert.
I realize I never checked the radiation levels in Tokyo.
Hopefully someone else did.
The first email I see is that Davis-Besse sprung a radioactive coolant leak yesterday, which is just south of me. The wind direction wouldn’t have reached South Bend, or me. The statement that is released says “There was no release of radiation that would be harmful to the public.”
Of course, that’s what TEPCO always said.
It’s going to be a long day.
Please help Christina purchase a spectrometer in order to get the most accurate radiation readings and thus get you the most precise information possible by shopping through her Amazon link or donate directly via PayPal to [email protected] Keep in mind, this is expensive equipment and it is the only way that specific isotope readings can be obtained from food items.
Edited by Madison Ruppert
Christina Consolo is a former clinical researcher supervisor with NIH credentialing; a former Member-at-Large for the Board of Directors, Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society; A peer reviewer for the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography; She has written, published, and contributed to numerous scientific research in retinal imaging and ophthalmogy for the past 24 years; She is also an award-winning biomedical photographer and maintains several websites to teach people about radiation, mitigation, and other nuclear issues. She is also the host of “Nuked Radio” Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12-1:00 pm EST on the Orion Talk Radio Network.
For more info including mitigation for radiation exposure, please visit FukushimaFacts.com, where you can sign up to receive Fallout Forecasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.