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Nothing but the Truth!


April 7, 2011 (San Diego) -- Ecologists have been saying for years that continued buildup of radioactive waste with no safe storage would haunt us. They also reminded us nuclear reactors are vulnerable to earthquakes and terrorist attacks.


Now albacore tuna, the tasty white-meat fish so beloved of afternoon sandwiches and tuna salads, are showing up with high levels off radiation from the Japanese tsunami.


Tuna are already in danger from overfishing and the buildup of mercury from coal-fired electrical plants. Now they face the hazard of high-level atomic waste being poured into the oceans at horrendous levels. In fact, the levels are unknown.


The Japanese, who have the world's most experience at treating radiation sickness, surely knew this would happen in a worst-case scenario. But nobody knows the long-term effects of radioactive cesium on fish in the oceans. If uranium or plutonium gets into the food chain, more than just tuna could be affected. Pollack, groundfish, and even salmon could soon be contaminated. Suffice it to say sushi will no longer be safe.


Practically nothing is known about the effect of radiation on invertebrates that make up the food for fish eaten by humans. Krill, the tiny crustaceans that feed the whales, could soon poison the seal and marine mammals in the North Pacific.


I don't eat whale. I'm not fond of seal sandwiches. But I used to catch albacore with rod and reel and they were delicious, even with the mercury warnings. But plutonium and mercury are vastly different pollutants. A tiny speck of uranium or plutonium in your tuna sandwich could kill you in a few months. Radioactive contaminants are quickly lethal.


Do I trust the Japanese or US governments to make sure my canned fish is safe? Or were those defective Toyotas just a manufacturing error?


Let's hope the nuclear power advocates don't screw up peanut butter. Otherwise, they will be nothing left for lunch!


Will Power is a retired history teacher and creative writing instructor.

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