Fukushima radiation off U.S. West Coast is increasing according to the latest observations of researchers monitoring radiation levels since the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.
Following the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, marine radiochemist Ken Buesseler began a research expedition to monitor radiation in the northwest Pacific. Ken Buesseler is working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is also the director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity. Buesseler has been at the center of efforts monitoring radiation in the northwest Pacific, starting a citizen sampling program in 2014 as well.
The latest scientific expedition yielded several samples which show that Fukushima radiation off U.S. West Coast is increasing. Several sites have been found to be more contaminated now. One sample, collected approximately 1,600 miles to the west of San Francisco has shown the highest level of radiation contamination to date.
Nonetheless, the contamination level detected in the sample is well under the safety limits proposed by the U.S. government. Compared to the safety limits established by the U.S. government, the sample has contamination levels 500 times below. This means the contamination level is not high enough to render the water dangerous for swimming or boating or other activities.
However, it remains crucial to monitor the level of radioactive contamination. The sample collected off San Francisco’s coast was found to present a radioactive level of 11 Becquerel per cubic meter. This radioactive level is 50 percent higher compared to any other samples collected off the U.S. West Coast.
Ken Buesseler plans to continue monitoring the radioactive levels in the northwest Pacific as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Buesseler and his team have added an impressive 110 seawater samples in 2017 alone. The database found on the website of Our Radioactive Ocean already contained 135 seawater samples tested for radioactivity.
According to Ken Buesseler, the importance of continuing monitoring stands in the fact that:
“changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific. Second, these long-lives radioisotopes will serve as markers for years to come for scientists studying ocean currents and mixing in coastal and offshore waters”.
According to scientists analyzing radioisotopes levels in seawater samples of the northwest Pacific, the samples will usually yield traces of cesium-137. This is an isotope of cesium having a 30 year half-life. Typically, the watermark isotope of Fukushima is cesium-134.
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