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Fukushima Radioactive Contamination Detected in Northern Bering Sea Alaska

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Water samples detect low levels of Fukushima-related contamination
March 28, 2019
… The sampling, conducted by residents of St. Lawrence Island, documents the Fukushima plume’s northern edge arriving in the Bering Sea for the first time, and shows levels of cesium-137 higher than they were before the 2011 nuclear power plant accident in Japan, Alaska Sea Grant agent Gay Sheffield said…
…Ungott has been collecting seawater samples for several years off the coast of Gambell. He sends them to Sheffield in Nome who then ships them to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for analysis. During 2014, 2015 and 2017, the lab found very low levels of cesium-137, similar to those prior to the Fukushima nuclear accident. No testing was done in 2016 due to lack of funding.
The 2018 results, however, showed the presence of cesium-137 at levels slightly higher than before accident…
 
…The level of cesium-137 measured in the 2018 seawater sample was found to be 2.4 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3). That’s above pre-accident levels, but still thousands of times lower than what the EPA considers unsafe for drinking.
Historically, cesium-137 levels in the Pacific Ocean were below 2.0 Bq/m3. The EPA considers drinking water containing levels of cesium-137 up to 7,400 Bq/m3 to be safe for human consumption….
… While the Bering Sea test results are not indicating a health concern, Ungott said he hopes more testing will be carried out.
“We need to know if our marine mammals that we hunt are catching some of this stuff or not,” he said.
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Fukushima contaminants found as far north as Alaska’s Bering Strait
March 28, 2019
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has drifted as far north as waters off a remote Alaska island in the Bering Strait, scientists said on Wednesday.
Analysis of seawater collected last year near St. Lawrence Island revealed a slight elevation in levels of radioactive cesium-137 attributable to the Fukushima disaster, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program said.
“This is the northern edge of the plume,” said Gay Sheffield, a Sea Grant marine advisory agent based in the Bering Sea town of Nome, Alaska…
…LONG-TERM STUDY
The results reported on Wednesday came from a long-term but small-scale testing program.
Water was sampled for several years by Eddie Ungott, a resident of Gambell village on the northwestern tip of St. Lawrence Island. The island, though part of the state of Alaska, is physically closer to Russia than to the Alaska mainland, and residents are mostly Siberian Yupik with relatives in Russia.
Fukushima-linked radionuclides have been found as far away as Pacific waters off the U.S. West Coast, British Columbia and in the Gulf of Alaska.
Until the most recent St. Lawrence Island sample was tested by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the only other known sign of Fukushima radiation in the Bering Sea was detected in 2014 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA scientists found trace amounts of Fukushima-linked radionuclides in muscle tissue of fur seals on Alaska’s St. Paul Island in the southern Bering Sea. There was no testing of the water there, Sheffield said.
The people of St. Lawrence Island, who live well to the north of St. Paul Island, had expected Fukushima radionuclides to arrive eventually, she said.
“They fully anticipated getting it. They didn’t know when,” she said. “The way the currents work does bring the water up from the south.”
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March 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

NOAA research plane flying over Alaska has detected enriched U-235

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An aerosol particle containing enriched uranium encountered in the remote upper troposphere
 
Highlights
• We describe a highly unusual aerosol particle containing a very small amount of enriched uranium.
• The bulk of the particle probably came from combustion of heavy fuel oil.
• The particle was encountered when we were making no special attempt to sample radioactive material.
• We don’t know the source for this particle. It may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.
 
Abstract
We describe a submicron aerosol particle sampled at an altitude of 7 km near the Aleutian Islands that contained a small percentage of enriched uranium oxide. 235U was 3.1 ± 0.5% of 238U. During twenty years of aircraft sampling of millions of particles in the global atmosphere, we have rarely encountered a particle with a similarly high content of 238U and never a particle with enriched 235U. The bulk of the particle consisted of material consistent with combustion of heavy fuel oil. Analysis of wind trajectories and particle dispersion model results show that the particle could have originated from a variety of areas across Asia. The source of such a particle is unclear, and the particle is described here in case it indicates a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.
 

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Mysterious and ‘HIGHLY UNUSUAL’ radioactive substance detected in Alaska

Feb 15, 2018
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SCIENTISTS have discovered an atmospheric aerosol particle enriched with uranium in Alaska which is used in nuclear fuel and bombs – and no-one can explain why the substance is there or how it arrived.
Experts from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said they have found a “highly unusual aerosol particle containing a very small amount of enriched uranium” .
The substance with the uranium-235 have been found for the first time in 20 years of searches, say experts.
This particle can fuel nuclear reactions, are used in nuclear power plants, can damage organic material and cause mutations that lead to cancer.
The scientists said: “The bulk of the particle probably came from combustion of heavy fuel oil.
“The particle was encountered when we were making no special attempt to sample radioactive material.
“We don’t know the source for this particle. It may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.”
They believe the particle could have come from across Asia and was brought to the spot by the winds.
The researchers say the the sample was “definitely not from a natural source” but could have come from burnt nuclear fuel.
The scientists made the findings when their research plane was flying over the Aleutian Islands in 2016 and detected the uranium floating about four miles above Alaska’s far-western island chain.
Leader of the study, Dan Murphy, said to Gizmodo: “It’s not a significant amount of radioactive debris by itself. “But it’s the implication that there’s some very small source of uranium that we don’t understand.
One of the main motivations of this paper is to see if somebody who knows more about uranium than any of us would understand the source of the particle.”
The full findings have been published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.
After the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 in Japan, experts became concerned about radiation impacts in Alaska as three reactors melted down. However, as the particle was found in 2016, the two are unlikely to be linked.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment