Researchers Predict Radiation from Fukushima Nuclear Disaster to Hit U.S. West Coast by April

Thursday, February 27, 2014
Fukushima radioactivity map (graphic: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

The earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan three years ago are still having an impact, only now it’s along the West Coast of the United States.


Scientists say radiation released from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has traveled across the Pacific Ocean and may reach American beaches in April.


Monitoring stations set up off the coast of California and Washington have not yet detected traces of radioactive isotopes from Fukushima, according to Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


But Buesseler and others, who have taken on the monitoring task because no federal agency has stepped up to do so, say it is just a matter of time, probably in April, for cesium-134 to show up in seawater off the U.S.


Scientists in Canada have reported only “minute traces of pollution from the beleaguered Japanese power plant” along their nation’s western shore, the BBC News says.


There have been earlier, unconfirmed reports on the Internet that harmful radiation has already washed up on California beaches. But those accounts have been refuted by scientists and health officials.


Roger Gilbert, a physician and radiation oncologist involved in the water monitoring project, told the San Francisco Chronicle that there’s been “fear-mongering on the Internet about allegedly high levels of Fukushima radiation in California’s coastal waters.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Fukushima Radiation Could Reach Pacific Coast by April (by David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle)

North American Scientists Track Incoming Fukushima Plume (by Jonathan Amos, BBC News)

FAQ: Radiation from Fukushima (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)

Study Suggests Fukushima Disaster Caused Thyroid Abnormalities in U.S. Babies (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov California)

Japanese Radiation Arrives at U.S. Airports (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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