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Scientists test sick Alaska seals for radiation

According to Reuters, scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska’s Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals’ fur coats.

Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.

“We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity,” said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor’s damage,” he said.

The results of the tests would not be available for “several weeks,” Kelley said.

Water tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in U.S. Pacific waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused multiple fuel meltdowns at the Fukushima plant and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the surrounding area.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service have been seeking the cause of the diseased seals for weeks, but have so far found no answers.

6 Comments »

  1. I read that a lot of the floating debris from that disaster will follow the ocean currents and go up to Alaska before moving down along our west coast. Seems logical to assume contaminated food and water will too.

  2. This is sad and unfortunate. But nuclear reactors are safe. Until suddenly they’re not… And although there’s seemingly no evidence of it yet, one can only wonder if there will be a human toll from radiation far from Japan’s borders and closer to our own.

    • Of course there will be. We are messing with stuff we shouldn’t be messing with. Nearly all the studies show that nuclear reactors do NOT save money, in fact they cost more overall. And what’s this crap about “clean” energy? A byproduct that is toxic and takes thousands of years just to make it to a half-life? Nope, don’t buy it. I have no proof, but just suspicions that there is more going on within our nuclear reactors than the public knows about. And using them for energy is nothing more than a smoke screen. A lot of profit and a LOT of power with nuclear anything.

      • It’s “interesting” how after the price of a barrel of crude oil more than quadrupled, as it was driven up by high volume commodity futures trading speculation, that all the very real dangers of nuclear energy that you just reiterated here, were rather suddenly and almost completely forgotten – or more correctly, purposefully ignored.

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