Traces of radiation, that is believed to be from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident back in 2011, has been detected just 100 miles off the coast of California says the the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI.)
According to reports by CNBC, WHOI found traces of cesium-134, which is a radioactive element that was released by the Fukushima power plant, 100 miles off the coast of California.
The levels of radiation detected is below levels that are harmful to humans, as well as 1,000 times below the limits set by the EPA for drinking water. The WHOI does, however, say that they expect those levels could increase in the next two or three years.
Rt.com reports that cesium-134 had already been introduced to ocean waters during weapons testing that took place in the 1950s and ’60s.
“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, We stand to learn more from samples taken this winter when there is generally less upwelling,” Ken Buesseler, the leader of WHOI’s monitoring team, said in a statement.
Buesseler added that consistent monitoring of the detected radiation along the Pacific coastline was necessary. He also added that he was reluctant to “trivialize” the groups findings, but that he isn’t concerned about swimming or eating fish from the local waters.
During an Ask Me Anything post on Reddit on Monday, Ken Buesseler, said that if a person swam for six hours a day, 365 days a year, off Eureka, the radiation that they were exposed to would still be a thousand times less than what they would be exposed to when having a single dental X-ray.
The groups scientists have tested waters from Alaska to California. The water tested showed that the cesium-134 traveled across the Pacific making its way to Canada’s coast.
Canadian oceanographers reported the presence of cesium-134 off the shores of Vancouver Island in 2013. Seawater samples that were collected at the shore from California to Alaska by concerned volunteers, who raised the money for the testing through crowd-funding. The U.S. government does not fund ocean radiation monitoring.
In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered damage during an earthquake. Plant workers were able to cool down the the reactors, but the reactors eventually exploded. Radioactive chemicals then leaked into the water. Contaminated water that was used to cool the fuel rods also leaked into the ocean. The plant was de-commissioned after the explosion, but the cleanup process is expected to take several decades.