Fukushima Radiation Detected Off Canadian and California Coast, But Not Alaska

January 1, 2015 Updated: January 1, 2015

Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected in waters off of Canada, researchers revealed this week. The revelation comes just weeks after a group of citizen scientists discovered radiation off of California.

Data from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute showed that low levels of Fukushima radiation has cropped up about 100 miles west of Eureka in northern California.

The institute is also monitoring waters off of Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Central America, among other areas.

The findings were added onto by Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanagraphy, which found radiation in waters off the Canadian coast.

However, scientists from both institutions emphasized that the levels of radiation found are very low. Even at the highest levels, Dr. John Smith of Bedford believes the levels of cesium radiation will not exceed three to five becquerels per cubic meter of seawater. The normal standard for drinking water is 10,000 becquerels per cubic meter, illustrating how low the radiation levels are.

He also wrote that while radiation does build up in fish, the “predicted exposure level is many orders of magnitude less” than the baseline safe levels.

Ken Buessler, the lead scientist at Woods Hole, agreed that there’s no cause for concern. “The levels offshore are still quite low. So by that I mean that they are a couple of these Becquerels per cubic meter, something that is about a thousand times less than a drinking water standard,” he told the Santa Cruz Sentinel, adding he has no qualms about swimming in, boating on, or eating fish from the affected waters.

The spots monitored for Fukushima radiation by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The spots monitored for Fukushima radiation by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


Meanwhile, no radiation at all has been detected in waters off of Alaska, said state veterinarian Dr. Bob Gerlach, who is part of the Alaska Department of Environment Conservation, and has been part of the team in the state tracking Fukushima radiation.

The team regularly takes samples from fish, looking for contaminants such as mercury, trace metals, and other contaminants. Kelp and water samples have also turned up clean.

“It is important for us to monitor it, but at this point, with these levels that are so low, there is no threat to public health, or the fish or the marine mammals or the animals,” Gerlach told KTVA.

Gerlach said that if radiation does reach Alaska, it should peak at no more than 5 becquerals per cubic meter. For context, the water discharged at Fukushima just after the disaster had as much as 50 million becquerels of radiation per cubic meter. 



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