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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Media from different countries clouds truth about the Japanese radioactive water dump

Catherine Shen
A goldfish with a group of black-fish navigate murky waters in the Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa, Japan. What used to be an imagery of serenity has become an object of controversiality as nuclear wastewater was dumped into the water. People, like the fish, are clouded by the murky waters.

Sushi day, a beloved day for many Webb students, may never be the same.     

On August 24th, Japan officially began to release nuclear wastewater into the ocean on the coast of Fukushima off Honshu Island. This geopolitical controversy has been under inspection for years after the nuclear meltdown since March of 2011. Now that the pumps are activated, media from different countries presents conflicting facts and opinions, with conflicting reports emerging between various demagogues and incoherency. Whether the wastewater presents a danger remains unclear. 

“The first thing that anyone should do when looking at an issue like this is to consider the sources, what their motivations are, and any bias for the intended audience and for the source itself,” said Megan Macphee, Humanities department faculty. 

Japanese media reports, mostly published by the Fukushima Prefectural government, called the dump “a step for Japan’s revitalization” from the Great East Earthquake and the nuclear disaster, and claimed it is warmly supported by Japan and other countries. 

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has posted statistics that demonstrated the disposal kept the pollution index within safe limits and that seafood consumption would not be affected.  

Internationally, Japan has remained transparent about their statistics and results of testing. Tritium levels recorded in the vicinity of the area remained below the detection limit of 10 Bq/L. Fish caught within four kilometers of the discharge pipe had no recordable amounts of tritium in them, it has been safe so far.  

However, it is also worth noting that these web pages were created with the imagery of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with colorful greens and blues to create themes of healthiness and cleanliness, affecting the viewer’s subconscious impression of the issue. 

Due to its geological proximity and political tensions with Japan, China expresses a generally negative opinion of the dump. An independent article on Tencent News states that although Japan claims that wastewater is diluted to a safe amount, nuclear wastewater is not the same as regular contamination, and the currents will then take the radioactive water and spread it across the Pacific Ocean. Fukushima nuclear wastewater contains the radioactive isotope of carbon, carbon-14, and tritium which is readily absorbed by marine organisms, and the concentration in fish can be up to 50,000 times the normal value. For this reason, the Chinese government banned fish imports from Fukushima. 

“I think many food restaurants will import fish from somewhere else before there is clear research showing that there will not be any significant effect on seafood,” said Annie Huang (‘24). 

Compared with portrayal by other nations, American media is more neutral, representing opinions and experts of different sides. American media portrays a fuller picture of the current situation with the Japanese government and certain experts saying that it is safe while protests in Japan and other experts saying otherwise.  

In addition to the information present, the wording is more neutral as well. NPR, an American media outlet, uses neutral words like “approved” when describing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s decision to let Japan dump its wastewater. On the other hand, Chinese news sources criticized this decision as “极其不负责,” or extremely irresponsible. 

Most American citizens seem to not even be aware of this issue, let alone have a strong opinion. 

“I didn’t even know about this before you asked me,” said Ava Darby (‘25), a local student. “I usually read the news too but haven’t seen this in the news at all.” 

On the other hand, surveys of South Koreans show that according to a Gallup Korea poll of 1,002 people showed that more than 80% of respondents oppose the Japanese discharge plan, and many citizens have expressed anger and mistrust of seafood after the wastewater dumping. Media has certainly had an impact on people’s perceptions. 

“[Japan is] certainly putting in a lot of effort to reduce the impact,” said Sehoon Kang (‘24), an international student from Korea. “But they’re definitely not transparent enough, that’s why people are concerned.” 

The Korean Central News Agency released a statement from a spokesperson from the North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, who said that the release of contaminated water into the ocean is an inhumane act that threatens the Earth’s ecological environment and the survival of humanity. The representative also expressed concerns over the dangerous radionuclides in the wastewater in addition to tritium, which contains large amounts of extremely dangerous radionuclides, including cesium, strontium, and ruthenium.  

With Webb’s science department, Webb’s science teachers all hold varying and different opinions.  

“Tritium doesn’t accumulate in organisms at all, because it’s kept as a liquid,” said Sawyer Belville, Science Department faculty. “So as soon as liquid is excreted, it comes out.”  

Research published by TEPCO and other independent researchers supports the general safety of tritium in relation to the human body.   

However, Dr. Joe Martin, Science Department faculty, has a different view on the consumption of fish and the tritium that goes with it.  

“Low-level toxic compounds accumulate in humans who consume fish with them, leading to elevated toxin levels, including tritium,” said Dr. Martin.  

Further investigation reveals that marine creatures that consume tritium can store up to 56% of it in their muscular tissue and up to 36% of it in their livers. Tritium in the liver is bound in non-exchangeable forms to a degree of about 50%. 

Until the food chain process has been completely carried out and the particles absorbed into the human body, we are blind to the consequences of the wastewater. In fact, different media sources even obscure the truth, with some evident events, such as Japanese protests, being denied. Journalism — to unearth truth has transformed into a tool used in political conflicts.  

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About the Contributors
Lisa Peng
Lisa Peng, Co-Editor of Photography
Zodiac signs might not mean much to you, but once you meet Lisa Peng ('24), you will see that she embodies her astrological sign, a Capricorn. Lisa, like a Capricorn, is known for being persistent, hardworking, loyal, ambitious, and often making her achievements seem like they take no effort at all. Over the summer, Lisa exemplified these traits by immersing herself in rigorous programs that exposed her to different creative writing styles. She attended the New York Times program where she learned new techniques and practiced her writing skills. As a Photography Editor at the WCC, Lisa will make full use of the techniques she learned and continue her love for highlighting individual people. In other words, you had better keep an eye out: you may be featured in her next story.  Besides being a part of the WCC, she is also bringing her Capricorn energy to as a day student prefect and plans to be involved in organizing more Webb events. This year, Lisa plans to keep up her hard work taking on her new editing position while also incorporating many new creative pieces to the WCC using her greatest talent: an effortless ability to bring things from her imagination to reality. Favorite Song: "Fallin' Flower" by Seventeen 
Chloe Wang
Chloe Wang, Social Media Manager
Upon meeting Chloe Wang ('24), her laid-back personality reveals itself. Besides spending a relaxing summer back home in China, Chloe also ventured into the Inner Mongolia, casually unwinding on a camel's back while she rode through the desert and grasslands. As she returns to Webb, Chloe continues to express her carefree nature when hanging out with her friends at the Claremont Village, playing video games, experimenting with makeup, and watching anime. Chloe seeks to expand and learn more about her own culture, especially when she is away from home, and especially while she is experiencing new and different ways of life, such as living at a boarding school in a different country. Chloe has the quiet strength of immersing herself in her own world and is focused on improving her journalistic skills and her knack for innovation. As the Webb Canyon Chronicle’s Social Media Manager, Chloe hopes to increase the readership for the website by promoting the WCC on social media. Cross paths with Chloe Wang on campus, and her dynamic personality is impossible to miss.  Song: Melody – 陶喆 
Kathy Duan
Kathy Duan, Copy Editor
In both the classroom and at your local law firm, Kathy Duan (‘25) radiates an aura of unwavering positivity, always prepared to offer a listening ear or a supportive shoulder to those in need. Serving on the Honor Committee and contributing to the Webb Canyon Chronicle as a Copy Editor, Kathy showcases her dedication and dependability, readily addressing any questions from political theory and philosophy to the finer points of the Webb Canyon Chronicle’s style guide. During the summers of her sophomore and junior years, she immersed herself in an internship at a community law firm, deftly managing client communications. Beyond her legal pursuits, Kathy shines as a passionate debater, and is an integral part of the Webb debate team. Most notably, she founded a non-profit organization, Roundtable Debate Academy, that makes speech and debate classes more accessible. Apart from the newsroom, leadership, or debate, you may sometimes find Kathy at the pool practicing water polo with friends or in Fawcett Library researching the next big story in today’s political scene. As a passionate advocate for rectifying injustices around educational equality, Kathy dedicates herself to finding solutions constantly. The next time you walk by the Fawcett Library or take a nice stroll by Stockdale Center, be on the lookout for Kathy’s next big article! Favorite Song: "Passionfruit" by Drake
Catherine Shen
Catherine Shen, Staff Writer
Catherine Shen (‘25) treats her life like a blockbuster action movie, in which she stars as an adventurous explorer. Determined to embark on as many new journeys as possible before she turns 18, Catherine joined the Webb swim and dive team her freshman year, where she fell in love with diving and continued training throughout this past summer bravely ignoring the risk of bellyflopping. As a new student leader, she is excited to explore what the chapel council has in store for her, such as deciding what guest speakers will speak and determining the driving theme of this year. She will also continue to broaden her horizons by joining the Webb Canyon Chronicle as a staff writer, where she hopes to set high expectations for herself and raise awareness about controversial topics. This year, Catherine will fight through the unexpected trials that lie in her junior year, strive to continue her action-packed journey, and dive fearlessly into new things. She hopes to live to tell the tales that come with her adventures!  Favorite Song: "Slow Down Turbo" by Rich Brian  
Evan Li
Evan Li, Staff Writer
Most entries here start with a metaphor or a powerful illustration of what the most defining characteristic of a person is, and I would follow suit from this trend and so let’s just say that Evan Li (‘26) is a glass, the one you pour water in and drink from. The catch is that this glass has a small piece broken off it, always leaking water from the bottom. Strangely, this glass likes to read and understand various topics it encounters, from archeology to clinical psychology to absurdist literature. This glass always asks itself what the meaning of existence is, such as why it has a small piece broken off it. Regardless of what the glass tries to learn about or what the glass tries to change, everything the glass sees, does, learns, tries, no matter how much water you pour in, it all slowly fades away and seeps out. The only way the glass will ever refill itself is if it manages to immerse itself in a massive pool of water, finding something it truly wants to learn about. Journalism is just another body of water for this glass to learn about.  Favorite Song: "Between" by CIKI
Phillip Park
Phillip Park, Staff Writer
Phillip Park (‘25) is a triple threat. A painter, cellist, and actor—he does it all. In the dorms, you can find him painting landscapes that might have been inspired by a hike he took earlier that day. When he goes home to Oxnard, California, during the summers, he is most likely reuniting with his cello, playing a classical tune. This fall, he is in the Liu Cheung Theater rehearsing for the play during afternoons. Although he is certain about his passion for the arts, Phillip likes to adventure and explore other pursuits. Excelling in originality, he ignores the status quo much like he ignores the alarm that goes off in his room every morning. In both the artistic field and the classroom, he does not think of problems one-dimensionally, but rather considers unique solutions. He will carry this mantra into his Advanced Studies The Cold War Era class, where he hopes to connect themes from his class with the modern world. Similarly, he wants to use his junior year to grow his fascination for current events by writing news stories. Like the art he makes, Phillip aims to write with originality and creativity.    Song: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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