In 2011 Japan’s nuclear regulator raised the danger level of an ongoing radioactive leak at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant to 7 on a 7-point scale. Officials said Tuesday (August, 2013) that a storage tank has leaked 300 tons of radioactive water into the ground.
Here are five things about the Fukushima radiation leak and related investments:
1. Investors in Uranium are Hurt:
The price per ton of uranium has tanked since the March, 2011 nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, which caused losses for anyone invested in uranium mining shares. Germany’s shutdown of most of its nuclear reactors pushed the demand for uranium to further lows.
How much Fukushima radioactive material leaked into the ocean?
Scientists measured 5,000 to 15,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material was reaching the ocean in 2011. The biggest threat was from the radionuclide cesium. The radionuclides strontium and tritium pose more of a threat for leaks that enter the ground, as cesium is absorbed by the soil while the other two are not.
A terabecquerel is 1 trillion becquerels, defined as the radioactive decay of one nucleus per second; a sievert is a unit of biological radiation dose which is equivalent to about 50,000 front view chest X-rays.
2) Nuclear Utilities Investors are Hurt:
Investors in nuclear facilities over the last five decades have enjoyed a decent return on their investment, generally in the 10 to12 percent range per year. The Fukushima incident has hurt those investments big time and many of them have fallen by 30 to 50%. It may take years to recover, if they ever do. Some investors sold their stock shares for a loss, to move on to other investments and try to start anew.
The Tokyo Electric Power Plant (TEPCO) estimated between 30 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium leaked into the ocean so far contaminating it for years, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.
The damaged plant is still leaking about 300 tons of water containing these radioactive radionuclides into the ocean every day in 2013, Japanese officials stated. This huge amount of radiation is poisoning the whole Pacific ocean that more than two million fishermen depend on to earn their living from and to feed their families.
3) Fishermen Livelihoods Have Been Destroyed:
Millions of fishermen from up and down the west coast of America, the west coast of Mexico, all around Japan, Korea, the east coast of China, the west coast of Canada, and the coasts of Alaska have had their fishing livelihoods seriously damaged by the humongous radiation poisoning of the Pacific ocean by Japan. The majority of these fishermen who had their lives invested in fishing and multiple thousands of dollars invested in their boats are now suffering huge losses of income and loss of funds to make bank payments on their fishing boats. Many are declaring bankruptcy and working part-time jobs on land to make ends meet for their families. Fishing in the Pacific ocean, once a billion dollar a year industry, has tanked taking down a million fishing families with it, a truly horrendous development. Japanese fishermen who followed their fathers into the fishing trade have been decimated by the huge poisoning of the ocean all around Japan.
How will the radioactive material affect sea life?
U.S. scientists say the groundwater leaks could become worse. Nicholas Fisher, a marine biologist at Stony Brook University in New York told Live Science for a previous article. “But in the region, yes, it’s possible there could be sufficient contamination of local seafood, so it’d be unwise to eat that seafood,” Fisher said.
3) Forcing Fishermen and Women to Stop Investments:
Fishing families now do not have any extra funds to make in other investments such as gold, silver, or stocks. Some are losing the very house they called home for the last 5-10 years as they fall behind in their mortgage payments, a situation that causes major displacement of families, depression, and leads to divorces. Christmas celebrations are bleak as families struggle just to put enough food on the table every week. In some families, parents are forced to take amounts out of their retirement accounts just to help feed the family.
4) Playing the Lottery:
As desperation keeps gnawing at them, some fishermen allocate a few dollars each week to placing bets on their state’s lottery, praying and hoping for the big win to lift their family out of the economic hole they have been slammed into. This is a long shot but someone wins every week so more persons keep playing the lottery chasing that one-in-a-million odds, even though it takes dollars away from their meager budgets.
5) Millions of Farmers Lose Money on Contaminated Crops:
Farmers in Japan have suffered mightily with the majority of their crops testing radioactive and unfit for the market. Farmers in the largest growing region in the United States, the famous San Joaquin valley in central California have had to spend thousands more per farm to implement protective strategies to protect and clean their produce of any residual radiation particles. Dairy farms in Hawaii, the western United States and Canada have found radiation particles in their milk and were forced to dump thousands of gallons out-wasted. These farmers struggle every month trying to grow their crops contamination-free. Wherefore, investments of time and money in their farms are now questionable if the crop proceeds will pay back more than the yearly expenses. Some have switched to growing crops in indoor greenhouses to provide a measure of protection. Still, minute particles of radiation get into the water source and is taken up by plants even in greenhouses, so the problem continues. Many of these farmers struggle now to make the mortgage payments on their farms and ranches as well as paying the hired hands. Only time will tell how bad this radiation contamination affects the millions of people living near the Pacific ocean.