Hoaxes & Rumors

The Fukushima “Toxic Water Map”

The Fukushima “Toxic Water Map”

A graphic circulating online claims to show the spread of toxic water released into the ocean by the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

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The image is mislabeled and does not depict the spread of radiated water.

There are two pieces of information being circulated: Claims that 300 tons of radiated water are leaking into the ocean every day, and the “toxic water” map which allegedly shows the spread of tainted water.

Claim: 300 Tons Per Day

The claim regarding 300 tons of radiated water being released into the ocean every day has been reported in two ways. Some sources claim it is 300 tons per day, while others have claimed that it has been a total of 300 tons. Consider the following four sources; two report a daily leak and two report a total leak of 300 tons:

  • Bloomberg 8/11/13:Government officials said last week that at least 300 tons of radiated water was flowing from the plant into the ocean each day.”
  • The Guardian 8/20/13: “Tepco admitted that up to 300 tonnes of highly contaminated water from the site was seeping into the sea every day.”
  • LiveScience 8/20/13: “One of the storage tanks from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has leaked about 300 tons of radioactive water, officials report.”
  • New York Times 8/21/13: “Tokyo Electric Power Co. says about 300 tons (300,000 liters, 80,000 gallons) of contaminated water leaked from one of the tanks, possibly through a seam.”

Claim: Toxic Water Map

In reaction to the reports in early August 2013 regarding radiated water flowing into the ocean, a map allegedly showing the spread of this toxic water began circulating online. This map, however, does not depict toxic water. It was issued by the NOAA to show the impact on waves immediately after the tsunami in March 2011.


Plume Expected in 2014

It was reported on August 31, 2013 that a radioactive plume of water in the Pacific Ocean was expected to hit the U.S. in 2014. This plume does still not resemble the above unrelated map falsely claiming to show this plume.

This is the computer-projected plume expected to arrive in the U.S. in 2014.

This is the computer-projected plume expected to arrive in the U.S. in 2014.

Bottom Line

Radiated water is leaking from the Fukishima nuclear reactor, however the map that has been circulating on social media alongside this new story has nothing to do with toxic water.


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  • Damo

    While not disregarding your post, the story is from the USA. 300tons of water is 79,251 US gallons, but only 65,990 UK gallons. I know, bit confusing, metric, UK & US imperials. But I agree with you, 300,000 litres (300tons) sounds catastrophic if you’re unaware of scale.

  • spookiewon

    300 tons is about 68,000 gallons, not 80,000. Water weighs about 8.8 pounds per gallon. This is a small amount of water. To put in perspective, a backyard swimming pool might contain 10,000 gallons–so about seven backyard pools full. In the ocean.

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