Tuna caught off the Oregon coast showed a spike in radiation in tests done after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. Oregon State University studied the radiation found in tuna before and after the meltdown, finding elevated amounts in tuna that have traveled through the Fukushima radiation plume.
The radiation has tripled in the tuna compared to the level of radiation detected in the fish before this nuclear meltdown. The tuna that have migrated through the plume more than once had the highest amount of radiation detected in this tuna-radiation study.
According to USA Today on April 28, the plum is due to hit the West Coast of the U.S. this month. Although there is not an agency specifically testing the water for the Fukushima radiation, water samples from the Oregon coast are tested quarterly for quality and this would detect any rise in the water’s radiation.
According to RT News, the radiation level detected in the tuna is a thousand times lower than the maximum safe level set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The lead author of this study said that you can’t say that there’s absolutely zero risk with the rise in radiation detected in the tuna, because “any radiation is assumed to carry at least some small risk.” Delvan Neville, the lead author on this study, is a graduate research assistant on Oregon State University’ Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics.
For this study 26 Pacific albacore tuna were tested and they were separated into two categories. One group was caught between 2008 and the March 2011 nuclear accident from the tsunami and the other group was caught and between the dates of the March 2011 accident to 2012. While the increase of radiation in the tuna was detected, Neville put the risk in context saying:
"A year of eating albacore with these cesium traces is about the same dose of radiation as you get from spending 23 seconds in a stuffy basement from radon gas."
This study also helped them understand the migrating habits of the tuna that travel back and forth to Japan and the West Coast. The fish that were four- years-old had higher elevations of radiation as opposed to the three-year-old fish. This is because the fish that were four may have migrated through the Fukushima plume twice, but the tuna that were three years of age only migrated once, leaving them with less radiation.
The study was published in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal. This is considered a pilot study and because of their findings from this study, Neville said that they were awarded a grant to look at albacore tuna in higher numbers all along the West Coast.