Health Canada says no worries

Stephanie Stein khiggins@ganderbeacon.ca
Published on June 23, 2011

Farmers in Central Newfoundland who were open to having their land tested for radiation contamination, will not have this work done by government agencies and private companies in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the June 2 edition of, The Beacon, it was discussed how the release of radiation from the Fukushima plant in Japan could potentially be poisoning Canadian soil, and possibly central Newfoundland. Evidence from various radiation monitors and news reports have shown that it has become a worldwide issue, and given that the airspace is shared, Canada and the U.S. have been directly affected as well.

Even though local farmers have not tested their soil and water, Nita Abbott of LA Farms, near Gambo, expressed an interest in having her land tested to ensure they’re selling a safe product. The newspaper contacted private testing companies, government agencies, and universities to inquire if they would consider testing local farms. All of them said they were not interested in getting involved at any level. Health Canada also reported that everything is normal.

Even though no official testing has been done in central Newfoundland, Ms. Abbott speculated, “I guess they feel they don’t have evidence  to take it further.”

Worldwide concern

Even though central Newfoundland is considered safe, reports by numerous media establishments have shown that radiation saturation has doubled recently. According to a CNN report, Arnie Gundersen, Chief Nuclear Engineer, said hot particles are showing up in North America. The radiation, he explained, emits a big cloud of gases, which can be measured with the Geiger counter. Nuclear engineers have also been finding hot particles or fuel fleas, which can cause cancer around the world. In Tokyo in April, measurements indicated that there are about 10 hot particles a day, which is a high level of concern in what a normal person would breathe. In Seattle, for instance, it went down to about five hot particles a day, which can lodge into lung tissue, the digestive tract or bone, and over time can cause cancer. As a safeguard, it has been strongly advised by Mr. Gundersen to wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming them.

According to the Fairewinds website, environmental scientist and engineer, Marco Kaltofen, is following where the radiation stream is travelling. His research focus is nuclear fallout and tracking over long distances, in particular Nanoscale particles, which contain highly radioactive materials immeasurable by a Geiger counter.

Mr. Kaltofen reported there is short-term radiation exposure such as x-rays, and long-term radiation exposure, where particles from a nuclear plant or cigarettes can carry a significant amount of radiation that never really goes away. He said, wherever it lands in the body, it begins to damage the tissue or kill cells.

Media reports south of the border suggest that Japan was downplaying the severity long after people were being affected. To this, Health Canada is insisting there is no cause for concern.

sstein@ganderbeacon.ca