Anti-nuclear firebrand’s case heads to Canadian court over death threats against Fukushima environmental scientists

Originally published by the Japan Times
By Alastair Wanklyn
Published Nov 17, 2015

An activist who alleges a global cover-up over the extent of pollution from the Fukushima No. 1 disaster is due in court in Victoria, Canada, on Wednesday over threats he allegedly made against the lives of two environmental scientists.

Dana Durnford is charged with two counts of criminal harassment for online videos attacking researchers Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and Jay Cullen of the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

In expletive-laden recordings available until recently on the Internet, Durnford rails against the pair and other leading scientists and calls for their deaths.

“Every university, every academic, every nuclear scientist will be hunted down and f—-ing murdered,” he declares in one video. “We want you dead.”

Durnford alleges a conspiracy by corporations and academics to cover up radioactive damage from the Fukushima plant in the oceans off Canada.

Neither Buesseler nor Cullen could be reached for comment.

A third individual involved in the study of radiation from the plant also reported receiving death threats from Durnford. That scientist declined to be quoted for this report.

Buesseler and Cullen are respected environmental researchers whose studies of radioactive particles in seawater show material from the plant on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture has limited impact when diluted in the ocean. One study shows that radioactive particles are undetectable in fish in the eastern Pacific.

Durnford disagrees. He has a following on the Internet, where he rails against mainstream scientific researchers in videos apparently recorded from his couch and kitchen.

“They are liars, they are mass murderers, they are the most disgusting part of our society,” he declares in one video.

The case touches on a type of fringe activism that is frequently a counterpart to rationally argued debate.

Mark Lynas, a writer and environmental campaigner based in Oxford, England, says criminal harassment of the kind alleged is “all too common.”

“This extreme is where the environmental movement goes pathological,” Lynas said. “Some activists are so ideologically blinkered in their attitude to things like nuclear power that in essence their worldview is faith-based, and they cannot conceive of the possibility of any scientific evidence challenging their worldview.”

Lynas said such activists tend to find that anything contradicting their belief that radiation is uniquely dangerous is evidence of a criminal conspiracy. He underscored that he was not commenting on the specifics of this case.

Since his arrest and release on bail, Durnford has posted a new video in which he asks for money to help pay his legal fees. He complains of bail conditions that require him to purge videos and comments from the Internet.

“I’m exposing people for committing crimes. How am I the bad person?” he says.

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