Transcript: Fukushima's Canadian Implications | Jan 30, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Fukushima reaches Canadian shores. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THE NUCLEAR DISASTER
AT THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR
POWER PLANT SEVEN YEARS AGO WAS
SECOND ONLY TO CHERNOBYL IN
TERMS OF IMPACT.
THE MELTDOWN OF THREE NUCLEAR
REACTORS RELEASED MASSIVE
AMOUNTS OF RADIATION, MUCH OF
THAT INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN.
YEARS LATER, THAT'S MADE ITS WAY
TO THE CANADIAN PACIFIC COAST.
JOINING US NOW TO EXPLAIN
WHETHER IT'S AS DANGEROUS AS IT
SOUNDS, IN VICTORIA, BRITISH
COLUMBIA. VIA SKYPE:
JAY CULLEN, PROFESSOR AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA'S SCHOOL
OF EARTH AND OCEAN SCIENCES.
HE'S ALSO HEAD OF FUKUSHIMA InFORM.
THAT'S A RESEARCH EFFORT
MONITORING THE ARRIVAL OF
FUKUSHIMA CONTAMINATION IN
CANADIAN WATERS.

Jay is in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short blond hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray sweater over a blue gingham shirt, and a yellow tie.

Steve continues JAY CULLEN, IT'S GOOD TO HAVE
YOU ON TVO TONIGHT.
HOW'S IT GOING?

Jay says IT'S GOING
WELL, STEVE, THANKS.

Steve says THANKS FOR JOINING
US.
I WONDER IF WE COULD START, JUST
FOR THOSE WHO NEED A BIT OF A
REFRESHER, TO HAVE YOU REMIND US
BRIEFLY OF THE EVENTS THAT
TRANSPIRED SEVEN YEARS AGO.

The caption changes to "Jay Cullen. University of Victoria."
Then, it changes again to "Ground Zero."

Jay says WELL, ONE OF THE LARGEST
EARTHQUAKES THAT WE'VE ACTUALLY
MEASURED IN THE MODERN ERA, A
MAGNITUDE 9 EARTHQUAKE, STRUCK
OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN.
AND IN RESPONSE TO THAT SHAKING,
THE NUCLEAR REACTORS THAT WERE
OPERATING AT THE FUKUSHIMA
DAIICHI PLANT WENT INTO SHUTDOWN.
BUT IN THAT STATE, THEY STILL
MUST KEEP THEIR FUEL COOL.
AND THAT'S NORMALLY DONE BY
CIRCULATING WATER WITH PUMPS
AROUND THE FUEL.

An aerial picture shows the devastated nuclear facility by the sea.

Jay continues AND POWER TO THE PLANT FROM
OUTSIDE THE PLANT WAS CUT BY THE
SHAKING OF THE EARTHQUAKE, AND
EMERGENCY GENERATORS CAME ONLINE
TO KEEP THE FUEL COOL.
UNFORTUNATELY, 45 MINUTES AFTER
THE SHAKING STOPPED, THE TSUNAMI
WAVE, APPROXIMATELY 15 METRES
HIGH AT THIS PART OF THE
JAPANESE COAST, INUNDATED THE
PLANT AND DESTROYED THOSE
GENERATORS, CAUSING THE FUEL TO
OVERHEAT, TO MELT DOWN, AND
EXPLOSIONS, IN EFFECT, DESTROYED
THE OUTER BUILDINGS AND THREE OF
THE REACTORS, AND LARGE AMOUNTS
OF RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION
WERE RELEASED BOTH TO THE
ATMOSPHERE AND TO THE NORTH
PACIFIC OCEAN AS A RESULT.

Steve says AND THE PICTURE WE
JUST SAW, I GATHER, IS OF A
VILLAGE NEARBY THAT WAS QUITE
DECIMATED BY THE TIDAL WAVE, IS
THAT RIGHT, BY THE TSUNAMI?

Jay says THAT'S CORRECT.
AND GIVEN RECENT EVENTS HERE ON
THE WEST COAST, IT REMINDS US
THAT THE DISASTER WAS QUITE
EXTREME FOR THE JAPANESE PEOPLE,
AND IN FACT THE TSUNAMI WAS
RESPONSIBLE FOR ON THE ORDER OF
16,000 DEATHS AND ALMOST 3,000
PEOPLE MISSING FROM THAT
TSUNAMI.
SO THE JAPANESE PEOPLE AND THE
COASTAL COMMUNITIES THERE ARE
STILL RECOVERING.

Steve says JAY, WE'RE GOING TO
BRING UP SOME ANIMATION NOW
WHICH KIND OF TRACKS THE
TRAVELLING OF THE RADIATION...

A map of east Asia pops up highlighting the location of Japan, then homes in on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant on Japan's east coast.
In animation, pulses coming from the plant travel across the Pacific Ocean, reaching the shores of British Columbia.

Steve continues INITIALLY FROM THE FUKUSHIMA
DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT,
WHICH OF COURSE RELEASED THE
LARGEST EVER UNPLANNED
DISCHARGES THE RADIOACTIVITY
INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN, 90 percent
APPARENTLY OF THE RADIATION WENT
INTO THE WATER, AND OF COURSE
THE CURRENT TAKES IT ALL THE WAY
OVER TO THIS COUNTRY'S WEST
COAST WHERE IT WAS FIRST NOTICED
I GATHER IN JUNE OF 2013, WHICH
IS WHEN YOU BEGAN TO TRACK IT,
AND I'M WONDERING HOW SCARED
CANADIANS WERE AT THE TIME A FEW
YEARS AGO WHEN THEY GOT THE NEWS
THAT THERE WAS THIS RADIATION IN
THE WATER OFF THEIR COAST?

The caption changes to "Next stop: North America."

Jay says OH, CANADIANS WERE RIGHTLY
CONCERNED ABOUT THE POTENTIAL
RISK ASSOCIATED WITH THESE
ARTIFICIAL RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS
IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
THEY SHOULDN'T BE THERE.
AND AT SUFFICIENT CONCENTRATION,
IF THE LEVELS ARE HIGH ENOUGH,
BOTH IN THE SEAWATER AND IN
MARINE ORGANISMS THAT PEOPLE
RELY ON FOR FOOD, THE IONIZING
RADIATION DOSES THAT THEY CAN
EXPERIENCE CAN CAUSE HEALTH
PROBLEMS.
AND SO I WAS GETTING LOTS OF
QUESTIONS, BOTH FROM FAMILY
INITIALLY AND FROM FRIENDS,
ABOUT WHAT WE COULD EXPECT IN
TERMS OF CONTAMINATION AND THE
TIMING OF THE ARRIVAL OF THAT
CONTAMINATION DUE TO THE OCEAN
TRANSPORT THAT YOU JUST DESCRIBED.

Steve says SO YOU STARTED TO
SAMPLE THE WATER, I GUESS?

A picture shows Jay holding up a pole with a plastic container for water samples at the tip.
Then a map briefly appears showing the location of Victoria, British Columbia.

Jay says YEAH.
SO I ALONG WITH COLLEAGUES IN
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, SO BOTH
HEALTH CANADA WAS MAKING
MEASUREMENTS OF CONTAMINATION IN
THE ATMOSPHERE, AND MY
COLLEAGUES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF
FISHERIES AND OCEANS, THEY WERE
MAKING MEASUREMENTS OFF THE
COAST OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, ABOUT
1500 KILOMETRES OFFSHORE,
LOOKING OVER THE HORIZON, IF YOU
WISH, TO LOOK FOR WHAT WE COULD
EXPECT TO AFFECT OUR COASTAL
WATERS AS THE CONTAMINATION WAS
TRANSPORTED ACROSS THE PACIFIC.

Steve says IT MAY BE A SILLY
QUESTION HERE, BUT DO YOU HAVE
TO WEAR SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO
MAKE SURE THE WATER DOESN'T GET ON YOU?

The caption changes to "What, me worry?"

Jay says WELL, AT THE LEVELS THAT WE
WERE FINDING RELATED TO THE
FUKUSHIMA DISASTER ITSELF, WE
DON'T HAVE CONCERNS OF
ENCOUNTERING ACUTELY TOXIC
LEVELS THAT COULD CAUSE US TO
GET SICK.
THE LEVELS, THE PEAK LEVELS, IN
FACT, THAT WE'VE MEASURED
OFFSHORE THAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM
THE DISASTER, ARE ABOUT A FACT
OF ONE THOUSANDTH OF THE LEVEL
THAT'S ALLOWED IN OUR DRINKING
WATER BEFORE IT STARTS TO BECOME
A HEALTH CONCERN.
SO WE CAN DETECT THESE LEVELS
BECAUSE WE HAVE VERY SENSITIVE
METHODS TO DETECT THEM, BUT THE
LEVELS ARE REALLY QUITE LOW
COMPARED TO LEVELS KNOWN TO
CAUSE SIGNIFICANT HEALTH RISK,
EITHER TO ANIMALS THAT LIVE IN
THE OCEAN OR TO HUMAN BEINGS WHO
USE THE OCEAN FOR RECREATION OR
FOR FOOD.

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT,
YOU WERE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING
CALLED CESIUM 134.
WHAT IS THAT?

The caption changes to "Isolating isotopes."

Jay says CESIUM 134 IS A VERY USEFUL
ELEMENT FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW
IN TERMS OF MONITORING.
IT'S AN ISOTOPE THAT DOESN'T
EXIST NATURALLY.
IT ONLY EXISTS BECAUSE HUMAN
BEINGS, FOR GOOD OR BAD, HAVE
FIGURED OUT HOW TO SPLIT ATOMS.
AND IT HAS A HALF-LIFE.
THE TIME IT TAKES FOR HALF OF
THE NUMBER OF CESIUM ATOMS THAT
YOU HAVE TO DECAY AWAY TO
SOMETHING ELSE, ITS HALF-LIFE IS
TWO YEARS LONG.
AND SO WHAT THAT MEANS IS IF WE
LOOK AT ALL THE OTHER MAJOR
SOURCES OF RADIOACTIVE
CONTAMINATION TO THE ENVIRONMENT
BECAUSE OF HUMAN BEINGS, LIKE
CHERNOBYL YOU MENTIONED AND
RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT FROM NUCLEAR
WEAPONS TESTING THAT WAS
OCCURRING IN THE ATMOSPHERE
DURING THE 20TH CENTURY, THOSE
EVENTS ARE FAR ENOUGH IN THE
PAST THAT ALL THE CESIUM 134
FROM THOSE SOURCES HAS DECAYED
AWAY IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
AND IF WE DETECT CESIUM 134
TODAY, WE KNOW THAT THAT SAMPLE,
WHETHER IT'S SEA WATER OR FISH
THAT LIVES IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN,
HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY THE
FUKUSHIMA DISASTER.
SO IT'S LIKE A FINGERPRINT FOR US.

Steve says A FINGERPRINT. OKAY.
SO WHAT ULTIMATELY WAS YOUR
LEVEL OF CONCERN ABOUT THE
LEVELS OF CESIUM 134 YOU FOUND
OFF THE COAST OF B.C.?

Jay says WELL, INITIALLY, BEFORE WE
HAD GOOD INFORMATION AND BEFORE
THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC
COMMUNITY WAS MAKING
MEASUREMENTS AND MONITORING AND
MAKING THAT INFORMATION PUBLIC
AND THE PROJECT THAT I RUN
STARTED TO DO SO, WE REALLY
DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT.
AND THE EARLY DAYS WERE REALLY
QUITE STRESSFUL AND CONCERNING
AND WONDERING WHAT WOULD HAPPEN
AND WHAT THE RISK WOULD BE ON
OUR WEST COAST HERE IN CANADA.
BUT AS WE STARTED MAKING
MEASUREMENTS AND OTHERS STARTED
MAKING MEASUREMENTS, WE STARTED
TO SEE THE LEVELS THAT WERE
LIKELY TO EXIST IN OUR PART OF
THE PACIFIC.
AND AS I STATED BEFORE, THE
MAXIMUM LEVELS THAT WE'VE SEEN
IN SEA WATER, WHICH ULTIMATELY
CONTROLS HOW MUCH GETS INTO FISH
OR WHALES OR SHELLFISH THAT WE
MIGHT EAT FROM THE PACIFIC
OCEAN, THOSE LEVELS IN SEA WATER
ARE ABOUT A FACTOR OF 10 LOWER
THAN WHAT WE ACTUALLY SAW IN THE
NORTH PACIFIC AT THE HEIGHT OF
THOSE NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTS THAT
WERE HAPPENING IN THE LATE
'50s AND EARLY '60s.
SO THE LEVELS ARE LOWER THAN
THEY HAVE BEEN HISTORICALLY, AND
THE AMOUNT THAT WE SEE FROM
FUKUSHIMA, AGAIN, DON'T APPROACH
LEVELS THAT HEALTH PHYSICISTS,
PEOPLE WHO STUDY THE IMPACT ON
LIVING ORGANISMS, KNOW TO BE
DANGEROUS OR KNOW TO REPRESENT A
SIGNIFICANT RISK TO EITHER
ANIMAL OR HUMAN HEALTH.

Steve says WELL, YOU'VE
ANTICIPATED MY NEXT QUESTION,
WHICH WAS: OKAY, FISH, SAFE.
HOW ABOUT HUMANS?

The caption changes to "Radioactive fish?"

Jay says WELL, AGAIN, WE'VE BEEN
MEASURING THE AMOUNT OF
CONTAMINATION THAT WE SEE IN
COMMON FOODSTUFFS THAT WE TAKE
FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN.
SO PACIFIC SALMON IN PARTICULAR
BECAUSE THEY'RE BOTH
ECONOMICALLY AND CULTURALLY
IMPORTANT TO CANADIANS.
AND SHELLFISH AS WELL.
WE'VE BEEN MAKING MEASUREMENTS
TO LOOK FOR THIS CONTAMINATION
FROM FUKUSHIMA AND LOOKING AT
WHAT LEVELS WE'RE ACTUALLY
SEEING IN THE ORGANISMS.
AND IN THE PACIFIC SALMON, WE
HAVEN'T SEEN A CHANGE IN THE
LEVELS OF THESE ARTIFICIAL,
THESE HUMAN-MADE RADIO ISOTOPES
IN THE FISH WHEN WE COMPARE THE
LEVELS WE SAW BEFORE FUKUSHIMA
OCCURRED.
SO THE IONIZING RADIATION DOSE
THAT A CONSUMER OF THOSE FISH
WILL ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE BECAUSE
OF THE FUKUSHIMA CONTAMINATION
IS VERY SMALL COMPARED TO THE
EXPOSURES THAT THEY RECEIVE FROM
OTHER SOURCES, OTHER FOODS,
NATURALLY OCCURRING RADIO
ISOTOPES IN THE AIR THAT WE
BREATHE, THE FOOD THAT WE EAT,
AND THE WATER THAT WE DRINK.

Steve says NOW, ONE OF THE
DIFFICULTIES OF THE POSITION YOU
HAVE ON THIS, HAVING STUDIED IT
AND COME UP WITH THIS
EMPIRICALLY PROVABLE EVIDENCE,
IS THAT YOU'RE FIGHTING ONE OF
THOSE GREAT SCIENTIFIC CARTOON
SHOWS CALLED THE SIMPSONS.
AND I'M GOING TO PUT UP A
PICTURE HERE.

A picture from The Simpsons pops up in which one of the characters holds up a three-eyed fish.

Steve continues THIS IS BLINKY, THE THREE-EYED
MUTATED RADIOACTIVE FISH FROM
THAT LONG-RUNNING SITCOM.
HIS POND SITS OUTSIDE THE
NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN
SPRINGFIELD.
THIS IS OBVIOUSLY AN
EXAGGERATION.
BUT THAT'S OUT THERE.
THE NOTION THAT THIS... YOU
KNOW, THAT ICON IS OUT THERE.
DO YOU HAVE TO... WHAT DO YOU
HAVE TO DO TO CONVINCE THE
PUBLIC THAT THAT'S NOT ABOUT TO
SHOW UP ON THE COAST OF BRITISH
COLUMBIA?

Jay says FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T THINK I
CAN SAY A BAD WORD ABOUT THE
SIMPSONS.
BUT YOUR POINT'S WELL-TAKEN.
THERE IS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION
OR EXAGGERATED RISK ASSOCIATED
WITH IONIZING RADIATION AND THE
RISK THAT IT PRESENTS TO HUMAN
BEINGS BECAUSE OF HUMAN
ACTIVITIES AND BECAUSE OF
NATURALLY OCCURRING RADIO
ISOTOPES IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
RADIATION IS A DIFFICULT THING
TO TALK ABOUT BECAUSE WE CAN'T
SEE IT, WE CAN'T TASTE IT, WE
CAN'T SMELL IT, AND THE HISTORY
OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THE FEAR
THAT THEY IMPOSE IN PEOPLE AND
THE FACT THAT GOVERNMENT AND
INDUSTRY ARE ALL INVOLVED IN
NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, FOR A LOT OF
PEOPLE, THAT COMBINATION LEADS
TO DISTRUST AND FEAR AND
ULTIMATELY MISUNDERSTANDING.
AND ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I AND
THE OTHER SCIENTISTS AND OUR
CITIZEN SCIENCE VOLUNTEERS AND
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
WHO WORK TOGETHER AS PART OF THE
INFORM PROJECT, TO GET GOOD
INFORMATION OUT TO THE PUBLIC,
ONE OF OUR MOTIVATIONS IS TO
COUNTERACT THAT MISUNDERSTANDING
THROUGH SCIENTIFIC LITERACY AND
OUTREACH AND EDUCATION.
WE WANT PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO
HAVE ACCESS TO THE INFORMATION
THAT THEY NEED TO MAKE THE
DECISIONS THAT ARE BEST FOR THEM
AND THEIR FAMILIES.

Steve says HAVING SAID ALL
THAT, HAVE YOU FOUND THAT THERE
ARE PEOPLE WHO, REGARDLESS OF
HOW MUCH INFORMATION THAT YOU
PUT IN FRONT OF THEM, THEY JUST
DON'T BELIEVE YOU?

Jay says YES.
SIMPLY BY BEING A SCIENTIST AND
WORKING AT A UNIVERSITY, THAT
DISQUALIFIES ME, EVEN THOUGH I'M
AN EXPERT IN MARINE
CONTAMINATION, IT DISQUALIFIES
ME AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION
FOR SOME PEOPLE.
AND I THINK THAT'S UNFORTUNATE.
BUT WHEN WE LOOK AT MANY ISSUES
RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, LIKE
CLIMATE CHANGE, LIKE VACCINES,
LIKE REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY,
THERE'S A LOT OF
MISUNDERSTANDING AND MISTRUST
AND REJECTION OF EVIDENCE THAT
SIMPLY DON'T FIT WITH AN
INDIVIDUAL'S WORLD VIEW.
SO IT'S A PROBLEM THAT'S
IMPORTANT BECAUSE MANY OF THE
PROBLEMS THAT WE FACE AS A
SOCIETY RELY ON EVIDENCE-BASED
POLICY AND SCIENCE REALLY BRINGS
A LOT TO THE TABLE IN THAT
RESPECT.
AND SO ONE OF MY GOALS IS TO,
THROUGH MY OWN RESEARCH AND
OUTREACH, IMPROVE SCIENCE
LITERACY AND, YOU KNOW, BRING
INFORMATION TO PEOPLE THAT THEY NEED.

Steve says IS IT FAIR TO SAY,
THOUGH, GIVEN HOW UTTERLY
DEVASTATING THIS INCIDENT WAS IN
JAPAN, IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT
YOU WERE SURPRISED AT HOW SMALL
THE TRACES OF RADIOACTIVITY YOU
FOUND OFF THE COAST OF B.C.?

Jay says I THINK THAT THE POTENTIAL
FOR THIS DISASTER TO HAVE BEEN
MUCH MORE IMPACTFUL AND RISKY
FOR OUR MARINE ECOSYSTEM AND
PUBLIC HEALTH HERE IN CANADA,
THERE WAS POTENTIAL THERE.
AND IN THE EARLY DAYS, AS I
SAID, I AND OTHER COLLEAGUES
WERE REALLY QUITE CONCERNED TO
TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING
ON AT THE PLANT ITSELF.
THERE WASN'T A LOT OF
INFORMATION OR A LOT OF GOOD
INFORMATION COMING OUT OF THE
JAPANESE AUTHORITIES INITIALLY,
AND SO THERE WAS REAL CAUSE FOR
CONCERN.
AND I THINK IN A LOT OF WAYS,
WE'VE REALLY DODGED A BULLET
HERE WITH RESPECT TO THE LEVELS
OF CONTAMINATION THAT WE'RE
SEEING.
IT COULD HAVE BEEN A LOT WORSE.
AND THE FACT THAT WE'RE SEEING
THE LEVELS THAT WE ARE MEANS
THAT THE RISK IS QUITE SMALL.
BUT AGAIN, IT COULD HAVE BEEN
MUCH DIFFERENT, I THINK.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, TAKE
US BACK OVERSEAS.
HOW IS, SEVEN YEARS LATER, THE
CLEANUP AT FUKUSHIMA PROCEEDING?

The caption changes to "Lingering fears."

Jay says THE TECHNOLOGY REQUIRED TO
CLEAN UP THE SITE IS STILL BEING
DEVELOPED.
JUST A FEW DAYS AGO, THE WORKERS
AT THE PLANT TOOK NEW PICTURES
WITH CAMERAS OF DAMAGED FUEL IN
UNIT NUMBER 2 AT THE SITE.
BUT THE LEVELS OF RADIOACTIVITY
AND IONIZING IS SO HIGH THAT IT
KILLS MACHINES, IT KILLS ROBOTS,
AND HUMANS SIMPLY CAN'T GO IN
THERE.
TO FIND THE FUEL IS THE FIRST
TASK, AND EVENTUALLY THE PLAN IS
TO TRY TO CONTAIN THAT FUEL.
IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW LONG THAT'S
GOING TO TAKE, BUT IT'S GOING TO
TAKE A LONG TIME.
AND ALSO ON THE SITE, THERE ARE
VERY LARGE TANKS OF CONTAMINATED
WATER THAT GROUNDWATER HAS BEEN
MOVING THROUGH THE DAMAGED
PLANTS AND COMING IN CONTACT
WITH DAMAGED FUEL, AND SO THIS
WATER IS QUITE RADIOACTIVE.
WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THE
LEVELS OF SOME OF THE ISOTOPES
WE NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT
ARE IN THESE TANKS, AND THERE
ARE TALKS OF DISPOSING OF THAT
WATER INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN,
AND SO THERE'S A LOT ABOUT
WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE PLANT
THAT'S STILL CONCERNING, AND BY
NO MEANS IS THE DISASTER STILL OVER.
WE STILL MEASURE CONTAMINATION
COMING FROM THE PLANT INTO THE
COASTAL OCEAN TODAY.

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP ON THAT.
I WANT TO MAKE SURE I'M CLEAR ON THIS.
IS THE PLANT STILL LEAKING
RADIOACTIVITY INTO THE OCEAN?

Jay says ABSOLUTELY.
MY COLLEAGUES, WHO GO QUITE
CLOSE TO THE PLANT TO TAKE
SAMPLES AND TO LOOK AT THE
LEVELS IN SEA WATER, FIND THAT
THE LEVELS OF THESE HUMAN-MADE
ISOTOPES THAT CAN ONLY COME FROM
FUKUSHIMA ARE STILL 100 TIMES
HIGHER THAN THEY WERE BEFORE THE
ACCIDENT OCCURRED.
SO THE LEVELS AND THE RATE AT
WHICH THE LEAK IS OCCURRING AND
THAT THESE ISOTOPES ARE BEING
PUT INTO THE COASTAL OCEAN ARE
MUCH, MUCH SMALLER THAN IT WAS
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE
DISASTER, BUT THE LEAKS CONTINUE.

Steve says NOW, YOU POINTED OUT
RADIATION IS CONCERNING BECAUSE
YOU CAN'T SEE IT, YOU CAN'T
SMELL IT, YOU CAN'T TASTE IT.
BUT THERE WOULD BE, I PRESUME, I
GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS CALL FLOTSAM
AND JETSAM, RIGHT?
OBJECTS, THINGS THAT YOU CAN
SEE, THAT HAVE MADE THEIR WAY
INTO THE WATER AND PRESUMABLY
GONE WITH THE TIDE OVER TO
BRITISH COLUMBIA.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS DID YOU FIND?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda."

Jay says WELL, ALL ALONG THE COAST OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA, WE'RE STILL
FINDING MATERIAL THAT'S BEEN
TRANSPORTED ALL THE WAY ACROSS
THE PACIFIC OCEAN BY CURRENTS
FROM JAPAN.
AND SOME OF THESE ITEMS ARE
ACTUALLY... THEY HAVE A LOT OF
SENTIMENTAL VALUE AND PERSONAL
VALUE FOR PEOPLE IN JAPAN WHO
HAVE LOST EVERYTHING.
AND SO THERE'S BEEN SOME VERY
FANTASTIC STORIES ABOUT PIECES
OF SOMEBODY'S HOME OR PIECES OF
SOMEBODY'S FISHING VESSEL MAKING
ITS WAY BACK INTO THE HANDS OF
THE FAMILY WHO HAVE MAYBE LOST
THEM OR LOST THEIR HOMES.
BUT WE SEE EVERYTHING FROM BITS
OF DOCKS TO WHOLE FISHING BOATS
TO A MOTORCYCLE WHICH CAME
ASHORE HERE ON VANCOUVER ISLAND,
IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT.
AND ALL OF THAT MATERIAL IS
BEING COLLECTED AND THE JAPANESE
GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY FUNDED THE
REMOVAL OF SOME OF THIS MATERIAL
THROUGH CONTRACTS TO INDIVIDUALS
WHO WENT TO REMOTE BEACHES TO
TRY AND REMOVE THIS MATERIAL
THAT WAS BROUGHT OVER ULTIMATELY
AFTER THE TSUNAMI BY THE NORTH
PACIFIC CURRENT.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Steve says THERE WAS A
MOTORCYCLE THAT MADE ITS WAY ALL
THE WAY FROM JAPAN TO BRITISH
COLUMBIA INTACT?

Jay says THAT'S SO.
I DON'T BELIEVE IT WAS CAPABLE
OF RUNNING ANYMORE, BUT IT MADE
IT ALL THE WAY.

Steve says HMM, AMAZING.
OKAY.
IN OUR LAST MINUTE AND A HALF
HERE, LET ME JUST ASK YOU ABOUT
WHAT THE LONG-RANGE PLANS FOR
THE FUKUSHIMA SITE ARE.
I MEAN, PRESUMABLY THIS THING IS
A DEAD DUCK IN TERMS OF EVER
PRODUCING POWER AGAIN.
BUT DO THEY EVER PLAN TO
REHABILITATE THE LAND WHERE
FUKUSHIMA WAS?

Jay says THEY'RE ACTIVELY TRYING TO
DECONTAMINATE THE SITE.
AND SOME OF THE STEPS THAT
THEY'VE TAKEN IS TO ACTUALLY
PAVE OVER EXPOSED AREAS TO TRY
AND PREVENT THE SPREAD OF
CONTAMINATED SOIL AND MATERIAL.
THEY'VE ACTUALLY LAID DOWN
CONCRETE IN THE INNER HARBOUR OF
THE PLANT, AT THE SEASIDE, AGAIN
TO TRY TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF
CONTAMINATION FROM MARINE
SEDIMENTS THAT ARE IN THE HARBOUR.
SIMILARLY, IN FUKUSHIMA
PREFECTURE, THERE'S A LOT OF
EFFORT BEING PUT INTO REMOVING
CONTAMINATED TOPSOIL.
BUT THE PLANS FOR WHAT TO DO
WITH THAT MATERIAL AND
ULTIMATELY WHAT'S TO BE DONE
WITH THE SITE, IT'S GOING TO BE
HIGHLY RADIOACTIVE THERE FOR A
LONG, LONG TIME, AND IT'S
FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT FROM
WHAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT
HERE, THE RISK ALONG THE COAST
OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, BECAUSE OF
THIS OCEAN BORNE CONTAMINATION.
AS I SAID BEFORE, THE TECHNOLOGY
TO DO THE JOB AND TO ACTUALLY
CONTAIN THE FUEL AND TO REMEDY
THE SITE DOESN'T REALLY EXIST AT
THIS POINT, AND GOING FORWARD,
THAT JOB IS GOING TO BE A VERY
DIFFICULT JOB AND THE STAKES ARE
QUITE HIGH.
THERE IS A POTENTIAL TO
RECONTAMINATE AND TO SPREAD SOME
OF THE CONTAMINATION ON SITE OFF
SITE, AND IT'S A VERY DIFFICULT JOB.

Steve says THEY'VE BEEN AT IT
FOR SEVEN YEARS.
HOW MANY MORE DO YOU THINK IT
WILL TAKE BEFORE THIS PROJECT IS
TRULY DONE?

Jay says I'VE HEARD ESTIMATES AS MANY
AS 40 YEARS.
BUT AS I SAID, I CERTAINLY
WOULDN'T WAGER ANYTHING ON A
SOLID TIME LINE.
IT'S AN INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT
SITUATION.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says UNDERSTOOD.
AND WE UNDERSTAND IT BETTER, NOW
THANKS TO YOUR BEING ON OUR
PROGRAM TONIGHT.
JAY CULLEN FROM THE UNIVERSITY
OF VICTORIA.
IT'S GOOD OF YOU TO JOIN US ON
TVO.
THANKS SO MUCH.

Jay says THANKS FOR INVITING ME, STEVE.
IT WAS A PLEASURE.

Watch: Fukushima's Canadian Implications