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Radioactivity in fish and shellfish samples from the west coast of Canada after Fukushima (2011-18)

June 13, 2022

The purpose of this post is to bring the public up to date on monitoring efforts of a research program into the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident on environmental and public health here in North America. This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing work carried out by the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) project which I led from 2014-2022. Radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean following the FDNPP accident raised public concern about seafood safety, particularly in coastal Indigenous communities in British Columbia where I live. To address this, InFORM along with Health Canada,  Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and First Nations partners have collected and analyzed a total of 621 samples of commonly consumed salmon, ground fish, and shellfish from the Canadian west coast from 2011 to 2018. We examined the activities of cesium radioisotopes (134Cs half-life ~2 years and 137Cs half-life ~30 years) that were released in relatively large quantities from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNNP) disaster in 2011 and would be most likely to pose radiological health concerns for human consumers of marine animals. Through careful analysis to determine the amount of radioactive isotopes in the seafood we have been able to carry out a health impact assessment. I wish to thank the following First Nations from British Columbia, Canada, for their generous donation of fish: Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Selkirk, Champagne and Aishihik, Taku River Tlingit, Tahltan, Nisga’a, Wet’suwet’en, Wuikinuxv, ‘Namgis, Hupacasath, Syilix, and Vuntut Gwich’in. I also thank Kayla Mohns and Brenna Collicutt of the Hakai Institute for assistance with the collection of shellfish samples. These results have recently been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity and can be accessed here

Highlights of the paper and key findings:

  • the vast majority of fish and shellfish did not have detectable levels of 137Cs or 134Cs where the minimum detectable level was 0.7 — 1.0 Bq kg-1 fresh weight for 6 hours of analysis by counting with a sensitive gamma emission spectrometer
  • 19 fish that had detectable levels of 137Cs were freeze dried and recounted for 336 hours and found to have an average 137Cs content of 0.29±0.02 Bq kg-1 fw
  • 2 of these 19 fish had detectable levels of 134Cs, the short-lived isotope, which showed clearly that fallout from the FDNPP was present in these particular fish. Given that the ratio of 137Cs:134Cs in the releases from the FDNPP was 1:1 we determined that the contribution of contamination in these fish from the nuclear accident was 49% and 24% respectively with the majority of caesium contamination coming from other sources like nuclear weapons testing and the Chernobyl disaster in the 20th century
  • 38 shellfish showed no contamination from FDNPP in either their shells or meat
  • 8 years of measurements showed that radioactivity in fish was dominated by naturally occurring radioisotopes and that levels of human-made radioisotopes remained small in the Pacific off North American following the FDNPP disaster
  • upper bounds for ingested doses of ionizing radiation from 137Cs was determined to be ~0.26 micro-Sieverts per year and far below the annual effective dose of 2400 micro-Sieverts from exposure to other sources of radiation
  • we conclude that fish and shellfish from the Canadian west coast are not a radiological health concern despite the FDNPP accident of 2011

What we did

Samples were collected with the help of 13 First Nations, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Hakai Institute in coastal waters and rivers of western Canada at sites indicated on the map below.

Figure 1 (a) Map of fish samples collected from 2014 to 2018 through the InFORM project. (b) Map of shellfish (bivalves) collected in 2016 and 2017.

For fish we removed the skin and bone to measure fillets which are typically consumed. Whole-body tissues of mussels, oysters, and clams were processed as they are generally eaten whole, but for scallops only the muscle itself was processed. In addition, we crushed up the shells of the individual shellfish to determine if radiocesium had accumulated in the shell as they are sometimes used to fertilize garden beds or adjust the hardness of rainwater used for home gardens.  We measured the radiocesium and naturally occurring radioisotopes in the samples using gamma spectrometry which you can learn about here. All samples were analyzed for 6 hours to screen samples for the presence of 137Cs and a subset of 19 were counted for a further 336 hours to determine if any 134Cs was present. This represents 10110 hours (more than 421 days) of counting time.

What we found

Results of the 6 hour counts and the extended counting samples can be found in here and here respectively. Given the extremely low levels of 137Cs present in the fish tissue (almost always below our minimum detectable concentration for individual fish) we averaged the gamma emission spectra of all fish collected in each year to determine the average 137Cs content. 137Cs content of all fish samples in each year fell between 0.18 and 0.25 Bq kg-1 fresh weight with the highest average concentration in 2017 and the lowest 2015. Data are here. The challenge of measuring and quantifying the amount of 137Cs can be understood by looking at the gamma emission spectrum and the averages for each year between 2014 and 2018 in the following figure.

Figure 2 Spectral summation of fish samples from 2014 to 2018, normalized to sample number. (a) Overlay, 150–2000 keV (b) Overlay with focus on the principal emission line for 137Cs at 661.7 keV.

What the figure shows is that even after averaging the results for every fish collected in each year it was difficult for our team to detect human-made caesium isotopes. There was also no clear trend in time with 137Cs neither increasing nor decreasing with time in Pacific fish. In fact, the level of 137Cs found in the Pacific salmon was similar to levels found in Atlantic salmon (Table 4, 0.20 Bq kg-1) we collected in 2017 and analyzed from the Miramichi River on Canada’s east coast in New Brunswick. Careful analysis of 19 fish with longer counting times led us to be able to detect 2 fish with measurable levels of 134Cs which was an unmistakable sign of contamination from the FDNPP. However, given our understanding of the releases of 137Cs and 134Cs from the FDNPP following the disaster, most of the 137Cs present in the fish reflected contamination in the Pacific from nuclear weapons testing and the Chernobyl disaster rather than events following the 2011 meltdowns at FDNPP. For shellfish harvested from Canada’s west coast in 2016 and 2017, spectral summation of fresh weight samples (tissue and shell, respectively) yielded no detectable radiocesium or any other anthropogenic isotopes.

What it means

From 2011 to 2018, radioactivity measurements were made by the Fukushima InFORM project of 621 fish and shellfish samples harvested from Canada’s west coast. To investigate the impact of the oceanic contamination plume of Fukushima radioactivity to coastal waters, we used highly sensitive analyses and data reduction techniques to show that the concentration of 137Cs in the tissue of marine fish has not changed (0.18–0.25 Bq·kg−1 fw) from 2014 to 2018 while that of shellfish was undetectable. Relative to the abundance of naturally occurring isotopes like 210-Polonium in the same fish samples or to the annual dose exposure due to naturally occurring background radiation, it is abundantly clear that, by any metric, the radiocesium content of fish and shellfish from Canada’s west coast does not constitute a health risk, despite the FDNPP accident of 2011. The ecosystem and public health on the west coast of North America was never under threat from the FDNPP accident.

https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2022/6/13/2100768/-Radioactivity-in-fish-and-shellfish-samples-from-the-west-coast-of-Canada-after-Fukushima-2011-18

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi and California Tidal Life in La Jolla

Via Majia’sBlog

This post is a follow-up from my previous posts regarding ocean life conditions in La Jolla California’s tidepools.

In the summer of 2011, my family and I noticed a significant (almost total) reduction in sand and hermit crabs in La Jolla tidal life at Wynd and Sea Beach and at the Cove, locations I’ve frequented extensively since 1984 (I lived in Pacific Beach from 84-89 and returned annually through 2011).

Please see my post about the poor condition of tide pools in 2011 at Wynd and Sea Beach in La Jolla. http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/speculation.html

I was so distressed by the collapse of tidal life in the summer of 2011 that we did not return to La Jolla for 5 years. In 2016, we visited again and saw that life was slowly returning

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/fukushima-daiichi-blob-and-pacific.html

However, sea lions and seals were experiencing unprecedented infant mortality at that time, a trend that had started in 2012. You can read my posts about the sea lion adverse mortality events here:

2013 Majia’s Blog: Sea Lion Deaths

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/sea-lion-deaths.html

2013 Majia’s Blog: Stranded Sea Lions in Southern California and Fukushima Fallout

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/stranded-sea-lions-in-southern.html

2016 Majia’s Blog: California Sea Lions, the Blob, and Fukushima Daiichi http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/01/california-sea-lions-blob-and-fukushima.html

Southern California beaches were first hit with Fukushima fallout via precipitation in 2011. Here is a scientific source documenting Fukushima contamination in Southern California kelp:

S. Manley and C. Lowe (6 March 2012) ‘Canopy-Forming Kelps as California’s Coastal Dosimeter: 131I from Damaged Japanese Reactor Measured in Macrocystis Pyrifera’, Environmental Science & Technology, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es203598r?journalCode=esthag

In 2013, a radioactive plume of water arrived in Southern California according to one group of researchers. Stan-Sion, Enachescu, and Pietre identified arrival of the ocean-borne plume of radionuclides from the initial days of the Fukushima disaster in La Jolla, California, evidenced by a 2.5 factor increase in Iodine-129 and Iodine-127 activity peaking June 18 2013 (date collection ended July 2013):

C. Stan-Sion, M. Enachescu, and A. R. Petre, “AMS analyses of I-129 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in the Pacific Ocean waters of the Coast La Jolla – San Diego, USA” Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 17(5)(2015): 932-938 DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00124B

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2015/em/c5em00124b#!divAbstract

A separate study modeling dilution declines of Cesium 137 published in Environmental Research Letters predicted that after seven years the ‘total peak radioactivity levels would still be about twice the pre-Fukushima values’ off the coastal waters of North America’:

E. Behrens, F. Schwarzkopf, J. Lübbecke, and C. Böning (2012) ‘Model Simulations on the Long-Term Dispersal of 137Cs Released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima’, Environ. Res. Lett., 7.3, http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/3/034004/ http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/3/034004

Blogger Nuke Pro suggested that the destruction of tidal life could be explained by bioaccumulation of radionuclides, such as strontium, in chitin:

Nuke Pro. 2016. Thursday, February 11, 2016. A Scientific Basis For Destruction Of Ocean Food Chain Via Radiation http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-scientific-basis-for-destruction-of.html

Nuke Pro. 2016. Mechanism By Which Radiation Destroys “Chitin” Which Destroys The Ocean Food Chains and Bees http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/2016/03/mechanism-by-which-radiation-destroys.html

We just returned from La Jolla yesterday and I’d like to update observations. 

The good news is that tidal life in La Jolla’s tide pools appears to have largely recovered. We saw several varieties of crabs, including the sand and hermit crabs that had disappeared from the pools in 2011. We also saw small fish in the pools. The quantity and diversity of tidal life was much improved, although perhaps not as abundant as before Fukushima.

Here is an image of one odd creature we discovered:

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The sea lion situation was more complicated. First, it is difficult for me to make direct before-and-after-comparisons for the sea lions because they moved into La Jolla cove within the last 10 years or so.

That said, I was disturbed to see a small abandoned sea lion cub. The surfer in the picture said he had pulled it out of the water two days ago when it was drowning. The cub was dying a slow death and it was heartbreaking. 

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I was also disturbed to see tourists approach and “pet” two other slightly larger sea lion cubs, with no apparent concern by the surrounding adult sea lions. Either those two sea lions were similarly orphaned or their mothers have become completely inured to the risks of human contact.  I found the scene disturbing as did other more environmentally conscientious onlookers at the beach.

Enenews has reported that sea mammals continue to wash up dead on California beaches in unusual numbers: 

http://enenews.com/tv-huge-number-of-sea-creatures-washing-up-dead-along-west-coast-its-a-crisis-all-along-southern-california-large-numbers-getting-sick-and-dying-video

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that sea lions continue to die because of the toxic algae bloom along California beaches:

More California sea lions are dying because of poisonous algae blooms. Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-ln-sea-lions-dying-20170419-story.html

The toxic algae bloom has been held primarily responsible for the mass mortality events of sea mammals that began in 2012 along the Pacific North American coast. The bloom was attributed to a warm water “blob” that emerged in 2012.

However, the water in La Jolla Cove this year when we visited was 62 degrees, which is quite cold and contrasts strikingly with the 79 degree temperature we encountered at the Cove last year.

I can only hope that life is more resilient than the chemical and radioactive forces of our unceasing and escalating environmental pollution.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/07/fukushima-daiichi-and-california-tidal.html

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Die-offs on US West Coast linked to Fukushima radiation???

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Charles Perrow, Yale University professor emeritus and Stanford University visiting professor, published Apr 2016 (emphasis added):

Could I just make an observation that’s been missing from this interesting discussion? Fukushima accident is not over – not by any means…

The cancer rate in Japan is going to rise steadily. It’s going to be denied by the government because there’s no transparency on this issue in Japan.

There’s a particular example of the problem that intrigues me is when they put the plant in, they not only dug it out so it’d be closer to the water source – the sea – but they put it where there was a river flowing underneath that area. They went up the hill and they diverted the river so that it flowed down on the sides of the large area there and that was no problem. They never anticipated an earthquake could wreck their diversion.

So know we have a strong underground river flowing directly under the plant where three huge globs of molten fuel are sitting on the bottom, giving off radiation, and sending that radiation into the water through the river that’s underneath the plant.

And it’s going out into the ocean and we’re seeing damage in the marine life on the West Coast of the U.S. and British Columbia.

There’s no way that’s going to be stopped until they get the molten cores out of there, and they have no way — that they know of — of doing that. Nobody has any idea what to do about the continuing Fukushima contamination.

Watch Perrow’s comments on Fukushima here (at 1:34:30 in)

Professor Sonja Schmid at 1:39:16

The question of nuclear becomes a question of democracy and ultimately a question of justice. Who gets to say something? And whether we entrust these decisions to governments and technocrats, or how, if we decide to do so, we democratize the process. And it’s challenging no matter how you plan to go forward, but I think that’s the ultimate lesson of this, that we can no longer have technocrats, scientists and engineers in charge defining “the real risk” and then solving it, and the rest of the population just watches and has no impact whatsoever on these questions or how they are being addressed.”

Charles Perrow’s paper “Nuclear Denial”, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 2013

http://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Bulletin_of_the_Atomic_Scientists-2013-Perrow-56-67.pdf

Sonja Schmid is a professor at Virgina Tech. From her bio: “Sonja Schmid teaches courses in social studies of technology, science and technology policy, socio-cultural studies of risk, energy policy, and nuclear nonproliferation. She is particularly interested in examining the interface of national energy policies, technological choices, and nonproliferation concerns. “

http://www.cornell.edu/video/five-years-after-fukushima-lessons-learned-nuclear-accidents

 

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seaborne Fukushima Radiation Plume Hit West Coast, Corporate Media Reported It Dangerously

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — “It is not a question any more: radiation produces cancer, and the evidence is good all the way down to the lowest doses,” says the late Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkley, in his book Nuclear Witnesses: Insiders Speak Out.

On December 12, 2016, EnviroNews USA‘s own Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry touched off a firestorm with his news article titled, “It’s Finally Here: Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast,” which claimed “medical science and epidemiological studies have demonstrated time and again that there is no safe amount of radiation for a living organism to be subjected to — period.”

In his piece, Urry also exposed other news agencies like NBC, the New York Post, USA Today and The Inquisitr, catching them with their pants down, in the act of repeating the false assertions of the U.S. and Canadian researchers, telling people not to worry about the recently detected low amounts of cesium 134 found in salmon, and that the levels were within “safe” or “accepted” thresholds for human health. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Emerson Urry recused himself from all editorial duties on this news story.]

Thom Hartmann picked up the article by Urry and read it on his show. Then Hartmann offered up his own journalistic explanation on how radiation works, and addressed the problem with the proclamation that there is a “safe” level of radiation to consume or be exposed to.

“As the element is decaying it is throwing off radiation, and the radiation, if it hits the DNA in the nucleolus and the nucleus of a cell, can alter that DNA in ways that can produce things like cancer,” Hartmann said. “Now it can also cause simply the cell to die or it can mutate the cell in all kinds of other weird ways, and so it’s kind of a numbers game. If you irradiate a million cells… you might get two or three that become cancerous. That’s all it takes, right? You’ve got cancer,” Hartmann continued in his video report. “The cesium could cause no cancer, or it could cause cancer in the first cell it irradiates. To say that there is a safe level of radiation is frankly wrong. It’s just wrong.”

 

Urry said later in a statement, “It’s one thing for the media to regurgitate trivial facts on trivial matters, but to blindly repeat that consuming low levels of radiation is ‘safe,’ is irresponsible reporting and borders on dangerous. News editors should take care to do their due diligence on a matter as serious as leading readers to believe consuming any amount of radiation is ‘safe’ when medical science and epidemiology, dating back 50 years to the present, have demonstrated repeatedly that that’s just not true. Even the smallest exposures increase the risk of cancer to the subject.”

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) report titled, “Public Health Statement for Cesium” from 2004, “stable and radioactive cesium can enter your body from the food you eat or the water you drink, from the air you breathe, or from contact with your skin. When you eat, drink, breathe, or touch things containing cesium compounds that can easily be dissolved in water, cesium enters your blood and is carried to all parts of your body… No known taste or odor is associated with cesium compounds.”

Cesium is similar enough to potassium that it can fool the body. This results in its bioaccumulation. When cesium enters the biological system of a fish, which is then eaten by a larger fish, the larger fish becomes contaminated. As the larger fish eats more, it becomes more contaminated. The cesium accumulates in its body. When a person eats that fish, he or she also ingests the cesium that hasn’t decayed or been excreted. The more seafood that person eats, the more radioactive material he or she will be exposed to.

The researchers who discovered the cesium recently also made the mistake of equating the dangers of consuming seaborne isotopes to that of receiving an x-ray, missing the point entirely that ingested or inhaled “internal particle emitters” are known to be especially hazardous.

“Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,” said Dr. Alan Lockwood, MD in an article on Fox News Health.

“Children are much more susceptible to the effects of radiation and stand a much greater chance of developing cancer than adults,” said Andrew Kanter, MD, President of the Board for Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in that same Fox News Health article. “So it is particularly dangerous when they consume radioactive food or water.”

Those who might expect the government to protect them from contamination by radiation have only to look at the downwinder situation in Utah or the consequences of Gofman’s research in the late 1960s. According to Gofman’s obituary in the L.A. Times, “Gofman and his colleague at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Arthur R. Tamplin, developed data in 1969 showing that the risk from low doses of radiation was 20 times higher than stated by the government. Their publication of the data, despite strong efforts to censor it, led them to lose virtually all of their research funding and, eventually, their positions at the government laboratory.” Their conclusions were for the most part, later validated.

“There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources, period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past President of PSR, in late March of 2011 in the immediate aftermath of the meltdowns. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine 131 and cesium 137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

“There is no safe dose of radiation,” says Prof. Edward P. Radford, Physician and Epidemiologist as quoted by GreenMedInfo.

In an email to EnviroNews, nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said Japan had raised the maximum allowable exposure by 20 times the previous number for civilians to be able to return to their homes. The U.S. and the EPA have considered such plans in the case of a nuclear accident. In food, the U.S. has an allowable dosage of radiation that is 12 times what Japan allows.

“Corporations get the benefit, civilians take the risk,” Gundersen wrote.

While Urry and Hartmann have sounded the alarm, there remain unanswered questions that desperately need to be resolved. Who will clean up the contamination in the food chain? How much radiation exposure will governments continue to say is safe in spite of the medical research? How can people trust what’s on their plate and in their corporate owned media?

http://www.environews.tv/121716-no-safe-level-period-media-got-dangerously-wrong-fukushima-radiation-hitting-west-coast/

January 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation has reached U.S. shores

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Tanks holding radiation contaminated water at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on February 25, 2016 in Okuma, Japan.

Its official. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has samples of Fukushima-sourced cesium-134 in salmon off the Pacific Coast of Oregon. Given cesium-134 has such a short half-life the source is linked to the on-going leaks from Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster. While the amount is still very, very low, it remains a concern given the Fukushima disaster is still not contained after more than five years.

SALEM, Ore. — For the first time, seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on the West Coast of the United States.

Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, was measured in seawater samples taken from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon, according to researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Because of its short half-life, cesium-134 can only have come from Fukushima.

For the first time, cesium-134 has also been detected in a Canadian salmon, according to the Fukushima InFORM project, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen.

Should we be worried? In both cases, levels are extremely low, the researchers said, and don’t pose a danger to humans or the environment.

Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from the crippled nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. More radiation was released to the air, then fell to the sea.

Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler runs a crowd-funded, citizen science seawater sampling project that has tracked the radiation plume as it slowly makes its way across the Pacific Ocean.

The Oregon samples, marking the first time cesium-134 has been detected on U.S. shores, were taken in January and February of 2016 and later analyzed. They each measured 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter of cesium-134.

Buesseler’s team previously had found the isotope in a sample of seawater taken from a dock on Vancouver Island, B.C., marking its landfall in North America.

In Canada, Cullen leads the InFORM project to assess radiological risks to that country’s oceans following the nuclear disaster. It is a partnership of a dozen academic, government and non-profit organizations.

Last month, the group reported that a single sockeye salmon, sampled from Okanagan Lake in the summer of 2015, had tested positive for cesium-134.

The level was more than 1,000 times lower than the action level set by Health Canada, and is no significant risk to consumers, Cullen said.

Buesseler’s most recent samples off the West Coast also are showing higher-than background levels of cesium-137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans because of nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

Those results will become more important in tracking the radiation plume, Buesseler said, because the short half-life of cesium-134 makes it harder to detect as time goes on.

Cesium-134 has a half-life of two years, meaning it’s down to a fraction of what it was five years ago, he said. Cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life.

A recent InFORM analysis of Buesseler’s data concluded that concentrations of cesium-137 have increased considerably in the central northeast Pacific, although they still are at levels that pose no concern.

It appears that the plume has spread throughout this vast area from Alaska to California,” the scientists wrote.

They estimated that the plume is moving toward the coast at roughly twice the speed of a garden snail. Radiation levels have not yet peaked.

As the contamination plume progresses towards our coast we expect levels closer to shore to increase over the coming year,” Cullen said.

Even that peak won’t be a health concern, Buesseler said. But the models will help scientists model ocean currents in the future.

That could prove important if there is another disaster or accident at the Fukushima plant, which houses more than a thousand huge steel tanks of contaminated water and where hundreds of tons of molten fuel remain inside the reactors.

In a worst-case scenario, the fuel would melt through steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels into the ground, uncontrollably spreading radiation into the surrounding soil and groundwater and eventually into the sea.

That’s the type of thing where people are still concerned, as am I, about what could happen,” Buesseler said.

Scientists now know it would take four to five years for any further contamination from the plant to reach the West Coast.

Tracking the plume

Scientists are beginning to use an increase in cesium-137 instead of the presence of cesium-134 to track the plume of radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. These figures show the increase in cesium-137 near the West Coast between 2014 and 2015.

Graphic courtesy Dr. Jonathan Kellogg of InFORM, with data from Dr. John Smith, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Dr. Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fukushima-radiation-has-reached-us-shores/ar-AAlkXUr?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

 

 

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December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Radiation Detected on Oregon’s Shores

That Fukushima’s radiation was detected on Oregon shores by Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler thru its crowdfunded, citizen-science seawater sampling project and officially admitted is one thing, however a lot is still left unsaid or unknown regarding its  possible biological effects on the marine ecosystem, as for lack of fundings or political will too few studies are being made.

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SALEM, OREGON – Researchers say seaborne radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on Oregon’s shores.
Seawater samples from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach indicate radiation from the nuclear disaster, but at extremely low levels not harmful to humans or the environment.
Citing the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Statesman Journal newspaper reports the samples were taken last winter and later analyzed.
Massive amounts of contaminated water were released and continue to be released from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that triggered a triple core meltdown.
Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler runs a crowdfunded, citizen-science seawater sampling project that has tracked the radiation plume as it makes its way across the Pacific Ocean.

 

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation has reached U.S. shores

Its official. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has samples of Fukushima-sourced cesium-134 in salmon off the Pacific Coast of Oregon. Given cesium-134 has such a short half-life the source is linked to the on-going leaks from Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster. While the amount is still very, very low, it remains a concern given the Fukushima disaster is still not contained after more than five years.
SALEM, Ore. — For the first time, seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on the West Coast of the United States.
Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, was measured in seawater samples taken from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon, according to researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Because of its short half-life, cesium-134 can only have come from Fukushima.
For the first time, cesium-134 has also been detected in a Canadian salmon, according to the Fukushima InFORM project, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen.
Should we be worried? In both cases, levels are extremely low, the researchers said, and don’t pose a danger to humans or the environment. Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from the crippled nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. More radiation was released to the air, then fell to the sea.
Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler runs a crowd-funded, citizen science seawater sampling project that has tracked the radiation plume as it slowly makes its way across the Pacific Ocean.
The Oregon samples, marking the first time cesium-134 has been detected on U.S. shores, were taken in January and February of 2016 and later analyzed. They each measured 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter of cesium-134.
Buesseler’s team previously had found the isotope in a sample of seawater taken from a dock on Vancouver Island, B.C., marking its landfall in North America.
In Canada, Cullen leads the InFORM project to assess radiological risks to that country’s oceans following the nuclear disaster. It is a partnership of a dozen academic, government and non-profit organizations.
Last month, the group reported that a single sockeye salmon, sampled from Okanagan Lake in the summer of 2015, had tested positive for cesium-134.
The level was more than 1,000 times lower than the action level set by Health Canada, and is no significant risk to consumers, Cullen said.
Buesseler’s most recent samples off the West Coast also are showing higher-than background levels of cesium-137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans because of nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.
Those results will become more important in tracking the radiation plume, Buesseler said, because the short half-life of cesium-134 makes it harder to detect as time goes on.
Cesium-134 has a half-life of two years, meaning it’s down to a fraction of what it was five years ago, he said. Cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life.
A recent InFORM analysis of Buesseler’s data concluded that concentrations of cesium-137 have increased considerably in the central northeast Pacific, although they still are at levels that pose no concern.
“It appears that the plume has spread throughout this vast area from Alaska to California,” the scientists wrote.
They estimated that the plume is moving toward the coast at roughly twice the speed of a garden snail. Radiation levels have not yet peaked.
“As the contamination plume progresses towards our coast we expect levels closer to shore to increase over the coming year,” Cullen said.
Even that peak won’t be a health concern, Buesseler said. But the models will help scientists model ocean currents in the future.
That could prove important if there is another disaster or accident at the Fukushima plant, which houses more than a thousand huge steel tanks of contaminated water and where hundreds of tons of molten fuel remain inside the reactors.
In a worst-case scenario, the fuel would melt through steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels into the ground, uncontrollably spreading radiation into the surrounding soil and groundwater and eventually into the sea.
“That’s the type of thing where people are still concerned, as am I, about what could happen,” Buesseler said.
Scientists now know it would take four to five years for any further contamination from the plant to reach the West Coast.
Tracking the plume
Scientists are beginning to use an increase in cesium-137 instead of the presence of cesium-134 to track the plume of radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. These figures show the increase in cesium-137 near the West Coast between 2014 and 2015.
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137 Cesium Activity in 2014. (Photo: Dr. Jonathan Kellogg / InFORM)
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137 Cesium Activity in 2015. (Photo: Dr. Jonathan Kellogg / InFORM)
Graphic courtesy Dr. Jonathan Kellogg of InFORM, with data from Dr. John Smith, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Dr. Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Off West Coast

cesium in california 10 nov 2014

November 10, 2014

Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, California. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.

In the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami off Japan, the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant released cesium-134 and other radioactive elements into the ocean at unprecedented levels. Since then, the radioactive plume has traveled west across the Pacific, propelled largely by ocean currents and being diluted along the way. At their highest near the damaged nuclear power plant in 2011, radioactivity levels peaked at more than 10 million times the levels recently detected near North America.

“We detected cesium-134, a contaminant from Fukushima, off the northern California coast.  The levels are only detectable by sophisticated equipment able to discern minute quantities of radioactivity,” said Ken Buesseler, a WHOI marine chemist, who is leading the monitoring effort. “Most people don’t realize that there was already cesium in Pacific waters prior to Fukushima, but only the cesium-137 isotope.  Cesium-137 undergoes radioactive decay with a 30-year half-life and was introduced to the environment during atmospheric weapons testing in the 1950s and ’60s.  Along with cesium-137, we detected cesium-134 – which also does not occur naturally in the environment and has a half-life of just two years. Therefore the only source of this cesium-134 in the Pacific today is from Fukushima.”

The amount of cesium-134 reported in these new offshore data is less than 2 Becquerels per cubic meter (the number of decay events per second per 260 gallons of water). This Fukushima-derived cesium is far below where one might expect any measurable risk to human health or marine life, according to international health agencies.  And it is more than 1000 times lower than acceptable limits in drinking water set by US EPA.

Scientists have used models to predict when and how much cesium-134 from Fukushima would appear off shore of Alaska and the coast of Canada. They forecast that detectable amounts will move south along the coast of North America and eventually back towards Hawaii, but models differ greatly on when and how much would be found.

“We don’t know exactly when the Fukushima isotopes will be detectable closer to shore because the mixing of offshore surface waters and coastal waters is hard to predict. Mixing is hindered by coastal currents and near-shore upwelling of colder deep water,” said Buesseler. “We stand to learn more from samples taken this winter when there is generally less upwelling, and exchange between coastal and offshore waters maybe enhanced.”

Because no U.S. federal agency is currently funding monitoring of ocean radioactivity in coastal waters, Buesseler launched a crowd-funded, citizen-science program to engage the public in gathering samples and to provide up-to-date scientific data on the levels of cesium isotopes along the west coast of North America and Hawaii. Since January 2014, when Buesseler launched the program, individuals and groups have collected more than 50 seawater samples and raised funds to have them analyzed. The results of samples collected from Alaska to San Diego and on the North Shore of Hawaii are posted on the website http://OurRadioactiveOcean.org. To date, all of the coastal samples tested in Buesseler’s lab have shown no sign of cesium-134 from Fukushima (all are less than their detection limit of 0.2 Becquerel per cubic meter).

The offshore radioactivity reported this week came from water samples collected and sent to Buesseler’s lab for analysis in August by a group of volunteers on the research vessel Point Sur sailing between Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and Eureka, California. These results confirm prior data described at a scientific meeting in Honolulu in Feb. 2014 by John Smith, a scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who found similar levels on earlier research cruises off shore of Canada. Buesseler and Smith are now working together on a new project, led by Jay Cullen at the University of Victoria, Canada, called InFORM (http://fukushimainform.wordpress.com/) that involves Canadian academic, government and NGO partners to determine and communicate the environmental risks posed by Fukushima for Canada’s Pacific and Arctic coasts and their inhabitants.

Buesseler believes the spread of radioactivity across the Pacific is an evolving situation that demands careful, consistent monitoring of the sort conducted from the Point Sur.

“Crowd-sourced funding continues to be an important way to engage the public and reveal what is going on near the coast. But ocean scientists need to do more work offshore to understand how ocean currents will be transporting cesium on shore.  The models predict cesium levels to increase over the next two to three years, but do a poor job describing how much more dilution will take place and where those waters will reach the shore line first,” said Buesseler. “So we need both citizen scientists to keep up the coastal monitoring network, but also research vessels and comprehensive studies offshore like this one, that are too expensive for the average citizen to support,” said Buesseler.

Buesseler will be presenting his results on Nov. 13, 2014, at the SETAC conference in Vancouver (http://meetings.setac.org/frontend.php/presentation/listForPublic ). He is also responding to questions from the public on the “Ask Me Anything” forum on Reddit at 1 p.m. EST on Nov. 10 (http://www.reddit.com/r/science).

Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) who specializes in the study of natural and man-made radionuclides in the ocean. His work includes studies of fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, assessments of Chernobyl impacts on the Black Sea, and examination of radionuclide contaminants in the Pacific resulting from the Fukushima nuclear power plants. Dr. Buesseler has served as Chair of the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department at WHOI, as Executive Scientist of the U.S. Joint Global Ocean Fluxes Planning and Data Management Office, and two years as an Associate Program Director at the U.S. National Science Foundation, Chemical Oceanography Program. In 2009, he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and in 2011 he was noted as the top-cited ocean scientist by the Times Higher Education for the decade 2000-2010. He is currently Director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity at WHOI. For more info, visit his lab, Café Thorium.

Funding for the citizen monitoring effort at ourradioactiveocean.org comes from close to 400 individuals and sponsoring organizations including Alaska Ocean Observing System, Alaska SeaGrant, Bamfield Marine Science Centre, Cook Inlet Keepers, David Suzuki Foundation, Deerbrook Charitable Trust, Dominical Real Estate, Fukushima Response Campaign, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Parks Canada, Humboldt State University Marine Lab, Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society, Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) Network, International Medcom, KUSP Santa Cruz, Lush Cosmetics, Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, Nuxalk Nation, Onset Computer, Pacific Blue Foundation, Peaceroots Alliance, PFx, a Picture Farm Company, Point Blue Conservation Science, Prince William Sound Science Center, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, Say Yes! to Life Swims LLC, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Program National Park Service, St. Mary’s School, The Guacamole Fund, The Institute for Building Biology and Ecology, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, Ucluelet Aquarium, Umpqua Soil & Water Conservation District, University of California Davis Marine Pollution Studies Lab, University of Hawaii, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu

Originally published: November 10, 2014

Source:  http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/Fukushima-detection

November 10, 2014 Posted by | USA | , , | 3 Comments

Fukushima radiation nearing West Coast

-salbrd07-29-2014statesman1a00320140728imgsal0729-oceanradiat11October 17, 2014

Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching the West Coast, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is reporting.

A sample taken Aug. 2 about 1,200 kilometers west of Vancouver, B.C. tested positive for Cesium 134, the Fukushima “fingerprint” of Fukushima.

It also showed higher-than-background levels of Cesium 137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

The sample is the first of about 40 offshore test results that will be made public next month, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole.

Further results, which Buesseler will release at a conference Nov. 13, will show offshore Fukushima radiation down the coast into California, he said, including some samples that are closer to shore.

Buesseler emphasized that the radiation is at very low levels that aren’t expected to harm human health or the environment.

“I’m not concerned,” he said.

And no samples from West Coast shorelines have found Fukushima radiation.

“There is definitely offshore Fukushima cesium now,” Buesseler said. “It’s not on the beaches, but it’s offshore.”

Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from Fukushima following a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Radioactive water has continued to leak and be released from the complex.

No state or federal agency is testing Pacific waters for radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear plant.

So earlier this year Buesseler launched a crowdfunded effort to collect surf samples to be tested at his lab in Massachusetts.

Processing was completed on about 30 of those samples, from the Bering Strait to San Diego, including one from Oregon. More samples are awaiting testing

Then, last summer, the captain of a research vessel out of Moss Landing Marine Lab in California offered to collect offshore samples down the entire coast in conjunction with other research work he was doing.

Buesseler said he hesitated at first, because analyzing those samples would cost about $30,000 his lab didn’t have.

“We decided to send him the containers anyway,” Buesseler said.

Buesseler was able to use a $12,000 donation from U.K.-based Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics to begin processing the samples.

He’s still looking for funding to make up the difference.

The Aug. 2 sample is the project’s first to identify Fukushima radiation.

The sample was collected at a depth of 25 meters.

It showed levels of cesium 134, the Fukushima fingerprint, at 2.2 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3).

Levels of cesium 137 were 3.9 Bq/m3. Background levels range between 1 and 2 Bq/m3.

Scientist expect the radiation to reach West Coast beaches this year or next year.

Source:  Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal 

 http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2014/10/17/fukushima-radiation-nearing-west-coast/17437081/

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment