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Fukushima nuclear disaster radiation to reach the U.S. West Coast

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The Fukushima 2011 nuclear disaster radiation is expected to reach the United States West Coast, next month. Even though no federal agency samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation, a group of scientists are monitoring and measuring radiation plumes coming from the Tokyo Electric Power company’s nuclear reactors.

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Low-levels of radiation arriving soon

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan resulted in a tsunami with waves measuring up to 133 feet causing death and devastation in Fukushima and Honshu, Japan. Close to 6,000 people were injured and over 15,000 people died. Cooling pumps in nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex shut down due to the tsunami and earthquake, causing three reactors to meltdown. Tokyo Electric Power Company reported they determined contaminated water was leaking into the ocean, last July. Some people suspect the problem was purposely not reported.

Last week, at the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences Section conference, a submitted report showed that Cesium 134 arrived in an area of the Gulf Coast of Alaska, in Canada. According to Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,

"I'm not trying to be alarmist. We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it's safe? The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast."

Monitoring and predictions

Scientists predict the levels of radiation coming from Fukushima are extremely low. They claim the radiation is so minimal; it will not harm the environment or humans. Nonetheless, some citizens and scientists are doing their own monitoring and obtaining their own samples.

On the other hand, West Coast states are reducing their tsunami debris response efforts. Washington State Department of Health affirms they do not test ocean water for radiation. Communication director, Tim Church reports,

"We have none happening now and we have none planned. Typically that would be something that would happen on the federal level."

In addition, Washington suspended their marine debris reporting hotline.

Radiation does decay; Cesium 134 has a half-life of two years. Nevertheless, residents on the West Coast can expect minimal detective activity of radiation to appear on their shoreline.

Read more of George Zapo’s articles about public, global, and environmental health at his website: Healthy Habits.


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