The tragedy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is troubling enough in its own right, but that hasn’t stopped journalists from flooding the Internet with a throng of fake stories aimed at broadening the scope of the fallout.
In recent days, a number of articles have circulated, suggesting that radiation from the Fukushima power plant has reached the West Coast of the United States, inflicting untold damage on marine life in the Pacific while presenting an imminent danger to human life.
Among the more questionable assertions is a report issued by Natural News, which claims that deceased sea creatures now cover 98 percent of the ocean floor off of the California coast — a one percent rise in levels recorded prior to the nuclear catastrophe.
The author begins the article by insisting, “the Pacific Ocean appears to be dying,” citing a report by scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
This latest claim isn’t the most outlandish fake story we’ve seen pop up as a means to induce mass panic around the radioactive fallout. Below, we have compiled the top 10 fake Fukushima stories that have gone viral in the media.
1) Hundreds of Whales Have Been ‘Radiated to Death’
A number of media outlets republished a fake report by NationalReport.net, a satirical, The Onion-like publication, claiming that hundreds of whales were radiated to death by radiated water near the Fukushima site.
An image of a whales washed up on the beaches of Japan accompanied the article. However, the image was actually an image captured in New Zealand in August 2010, roughly eight months before the tsunami hit the Japanese city.
2) Swimming in California’s Beaches Will Kill You
Academics at Deep Sea News debunked this popular myth, suggesting that not only is it completely safe to swim off the California coast, but also, taking a dip in the waters next to Fukushima would have no impact on your health.
According to DSN, if you venture into the waters bordering the actual power plant, you would only be exposed to “0.03 percent of the daily radiation an average Japanese resident receives.”
3) There’s a Mysterious Pathogen Carrying Out a Starfish Genocide in the Pacific
In December, a report concerning a potential Echinoderm catastrophe circulated the Internet, suggesting that the pathogen responsible for killing countless starfish was born from the radiation.
While the die-off has been confirmed and a biological ailment is still believed to be the cause, government tests have since ruled out Fukushima as the culprit for spawning the disease. Still, that hasn’t stopped the story from gaining traction on the Internet.
4) Giant Radioactive Sea Creatures are Landing on Beaches Across the Globe
According to reports published this month, a giant squid measuring 160 feet in length washed up on the shores of Santa Monica.
This was the second such reported incident, and scientists purportedly believed that the mutant creatures suffered from the same form of radioactive gigantism after being exposed to nuclear material in the waters near the Fukushima plant.
The articles were accompanied by a poorly doctored photo of a massive pink squid encircled by curious onlookers. Unfortunately, the hysteria was deemed unwarranted after the image was discovered to have been Photoshopped over a mutation-free whale that washed up on the shores of Chile in 2011.
5) The Government is Using Terrorism Prevention as a Cover to Study a Radiation Plume Advancing on Washington, DC
Drawing from a report that Homeland Security officials conducted tests by measuring radiation levels over the city of Baltimore using low-flying helicopters, some suggested that the government fears the Fukushima fallout could spread to the East Coast.
Despite the government’s claim that the tests were conducted so as to provide insights into developing a response plan in the event of a nuclear or dirty bomb attack, detractors believe that the tests are actually being done in an effort to manage the “public relations nightmare” that would damage the public’s perception of the US military.
6) Strontium-90: the Radioactive Material the CIA Doesn’t Want You to Know About
Apparently, the CIA launched a massive effort to keep people in the dark about strontium-90, a radioactive isotope that is the byproduct of nuclear fission.
The rumor originated from a claim that Japanese government scientists suggest that the release of strontium-90 would prove catastrophic for the entire ocean if water contaminated with the isotope were to leak into the ocean.
The rumor-mongers suggest that the CIA fears the public will be driven into a frenzy if it learns about the contamination, as strontium-90 would not be nearly impossible to filter from the ocean. There is no evidence to support this alleged CIA cover-up.
7) The CIA Isn’t the Only Organization Involved in the Cover-Up; In Fact, it’s a Coordinated Global Effort
Detractors of big government have jumped on the line that TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), the US and Japanese governments, the majority of scientists and the mainstream media have intentionally downplayed the dangers associated with the radiation from Fukushima.
Retired military scientist Dr. Richard Davis helped lead this charge, suggesting in an interview with apocalypse-obsessed InfoWars that the massive cover-up has been orchestrated as a means to quell public panic.
8) Radiation from Japan is Already Killing People in North America
With the tagline, “You’re going to want to use every share button at the bottom of this article once you’re done reading, so get ready, it’s time to freak out: Maybe,” self-anointed social media expert and presumed marine biology-enthusiast Jerome Williams issued a dire warning that the disaster has already claimed its first victims in North America.
In his article, Williams cites a study published by The International Journal of Medicine, which he claims to indicate that more than 20,000 deaths in North America can be attributed to radioactive Fukushima materials, due largely to a spike in infant mortality rates. This claim was thoroughly debunked by Southern Fried Science.
9) Polar Bears, Seals and Walruses are Going Bald in Alaska
Rumors swirled suggesting that the arctic animals were suffering from chemo-like baldness and open sores after being exposed to radiation. This report wasn’t issued by some tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. NBC News reported the story, attempting to link the “epidemic” to Fukushima.
However, the article references a Reuters report that claims “that preliminary studies do not support a theory that the disease is due to contamination from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.”
10) Fish Along the Canadian West Coast are Bleeding From Their Gills, Bellies and Eyeballs
While the reports may be true, the actual cause of these blood-leaking fish is a virus called hemorrhagic septicemia, a documented ailment that has no linkage to spikes in radiation levels. Disturbing as it may be, there is no evidence to suggest that our Japanese friends are responsible for the afflicted marine life.
Radioactive contamination shouldn’t be taken lightly, but there are enough problems that must be addressed in reality that deserve our focus. Let’s put an end to these distractions that prevent us from cleaning up properly in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
Top Photo Credit: Getty Images