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Charges laid against B.C. man who called for death of Fukushima researcher

In this March 10, 2014, file photo, workers wearing protective gear work at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, northeastern Japan in their attempt to stop the leakage of radioactive water that has accumulated at the crippled nuclear power plant.

Koji Sasahara/AP

A British Columbia man who posted a video calling for the death of scientists whose research shows the Fukushima nuclear accident is not destroying the Pacific has been charged with two counts of criminal harassment.

The charges were laid against Dana Durnford of Powell River shortly after he posted a video on YouTube defending the attack on Jay Cullen, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Victoria, and another researcher.

The Globe and Mail reported on Monday that Dr. Cullen, who co-ordinates a radioactivity monitoring network that includes researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, several Canadian universities and Health Canada, came under attack after reporting Fukushima radiation levels in the Pacific are extremely low.

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In a video posted on Wednesday, Mr. Durnford, who was not named in the initial story, questioned the accuracy of that report.

"Now, if Jay Cullen was getting death threats, you know I'd be in jail, most likely, and so would a lot of other people. Yep. And so come get me. I'm right here," Mr. Durnford said.

In a video posted on Thursday, he said he had just been charged, and that many of his past videos had been taken down.

"You can find my presentations … on YouTube. What is left of them. The night before, I was arrested and the next morning, yesterday morning, I was in court and I was charged with criminal harassment of nuclear industry PR people," he said. "And one of those was from Woods Hole and the other one was from UVic, British Columbia, Canada."

Contacted by e-mail, Mr. Durnford declined comment and threatened legal action "if you write anything about me."

Court records show he was charged under Section 264 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which makes it illegal to engage in conduct that causes someone to fear for their safety.

In the video, he says he plans to defend himself against the charges and will issue a public statement through legal counsel.

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"As soon as I get the lawyer, then we can do a press release, so we can do radio interviews with the lawyer and the lawyer can talk about the case," he said.

In a series of earlier videos, Mr. Durnford, who calls himself the Nuclear Proctologist, claimed the radiation released by Fukushima had caused the widespread death of marine organisms. And he accused scientists of working for the nuclear industry to cover up the impact.

He said the charges are part of an attempt to silence him.

In his video, Mr. Durnford shows e-mails that say his past videos were "removed by the YouTube team for violating our community guidelines."

Clicking the link to one video he posted about Dr. Cullen leads to a notice that says: "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on depiction of harmful activities."

In his Thursday video, Mr. Durnford defended his attacks on Dr. Cullen and other scientists.

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"All I'm doing is exposing people for committing crimes. … How is it bad to even call these people evil?" he asked.

Mr. Durnford called on his supporters to donate funds for his legal defence.

Dr. Cullen declined to discuss the case.

"It's new territory for me, and I certainly don't want to jeopardize [the prosecution] by speaking out of turn," he said on Thursday.

In an earlier interview, Dr. Cullen said he started the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring Network, known as InFORM, to provide the public with scientific findings on the nuclear accident.

"The goal and motivation … was that people were asking me, family and friends and the public at large, what the impact of the disaster was on B.C., on the North Pacific and on Canada. After the disaster occurred, I started looking for quality monitoring information so I could answer those questions as honestly and accurately as I could," he said.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More

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