Concern, but not panic about dumping radioactive water in Japan
UPDATED April 7 - There is a lot to be concerned about regarding the Tsunami / nuclear disaster last month in Japan. In fact it is hard to overstate the concern for the survivors, and for the long term impacts on the Japanese people, including the power shortages. One of the recent story lines that is being overhyped however, in my opinion, is the dumpling of radioactive water in the ocean.
A new evaluation today by Yale's Center for the Environment confirms my earlier point about the tremendous dilution in the ocean. They do however, express concern about its concentration as it moves up the food chain. To read the article, http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2391 As they note, it is too early to know the real danger.
Recent press has been playing to fears and lack of understandin about radiation. I understand that we are all a little nervous about it, both due to the invisible quality, and the long term cumulative health effects.
As the excellent article in BLOOMBERG pointed out, there are far higher levels of radiation normally in many cities, that is currently found in Tokyo. See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-01/hong-kong-radiation-exceeds-tokyo-even-after-japan-crisis.html
Like the atmosphere, ocean currents quickly dilute and disperse substances. With enough dilution the most deadly poison becomes ineffective. (That is the principal used in homeopathic medicines by the way.)
It is also the reason that terrorism evaluations about the danger of someone poisoning the water supply of major municipalities has yielded a negative result. It would take a HUGE quantity of the most powerful poison to be effective, after dilution in a major reservoir.
The area in Japan where the nuclear disaster occurred is exposed to the sea -- which is of course the reason the tsunami hit it with such force. It appears to have very active ocean currents. Thus any radiation should be quickly dispersed and diluted rendering it an extremely low risk in terms of levels of radiation in the water. The concern about the concentration in the food chain warrants more study.