Researchers say that the highest levels of radiation have been detected in North America since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Radiation from the disaster has been carried by currents in the Pacific Ocean over the last four years and has now been detected in high concentrations off of the U.S. coast. Researchers say that the highest levels of the radioactive isotopes were found off the coast of San Francisco.
Research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution suggests that the radiation from the Fukushima Daachi nuclear disaster is at an all time high off the coast of North America. The scientists note that the radioactive isotopes have been carried around the Pacific Ocean by currents and will remain there for years, and possibly continue to get more concentrated. The researchers said that the highest concentration levels were discovered 1,600 miles off of the San Francisco coast, but have also been detected a large number of other sites that were tested. Concentration levels were detected at the highest level to date and more sites tested positive for Fukushima contamination than ever in the past.
“Scientists monitoring the spread of radiation in the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear accident report finding an increased number of sites off the US West Coast showing signs of contamination from Fukushima.”
Ken Buesseler, a marine radiochemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and director of the WHOI Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity, began studying radioactivity from Fukushima in the Pacific Ocean just three months after the nuclear disaster. Buesseler points out that the current level of Fukushima radiation found in the ocean is still well below “government-established safety limits;” however, he notes that the research is still vitally important.
“These new data are important for two reasons. First, despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life, the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific. Second, these long-lived radioisotopes will serve as markers for years to come for scientists studying ocean currents and mixing in coastal and offshore waters.”
So exactly how “high” are the concentration levels of Fukushima nuclear waste in the Pacific Ocean? The research suggests that the highest concentration closest to the United States coast was 1,600 miles from San Francisco and amounted to 11 Becquerel’s per cubic meter of seawater (about 264 gallons). The researchers claim that this is 50 percent higher than other samples collected along the West Coast, but that it is not a cause for immediate concern. The reading was noted as more than 500 times lower than U.S. government safety limits for drinking water. It was also noted as being well below limits of concern for direct exposure while swimming, boating, or other recreational activities.
As researchers claim that no serious health concerns are noted with the increase in Fukushima nuclear waste off the Pacific, another serious issues is underway in Japan. In October, scientists admitted that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No. 2 nuclear reactor fuel is missing from the core containment vessel. The researchers say it has completely vanished and they have no idea where it has gone. In fact, the researchers say that a serious meltdown could be underway or that potentially a full blown meltdown has already occurred in the reactor, which was heavily damaged during the Fukushima disaster.
“The researchers say further analyses are needed to determine whether molten fuel penetrated the reactor and fell down. In short, researchers do not yet know if the molten hot stuff has penetrated the steel/concrete base beyond the containment vessel, thus entering Mother Earth.”
If the fuel has penetrated the reactor, a serious meltdown could be underway and molten radioactive fuel could begin pouring into the environment at incredibly rates. However, scientists have admitted that they have no idea what will happen if the meltdown has already began to take place as there is currently no way to stop it.
Ever wonder what it looks like inside of one of these reactors? On January 19 of this year, TEPCO released video that provided a look inside the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 with the Olympus endoscope. The images were horrifying as video captured the molten state of the fuel inside of the containment vessel which has now all but disappeared. All of the colorful dots seen on the screen are actually images of radiation with the more startling images showing at the almost two minute mark as the blue and green beams shoot across the screen. These beams were identified as Blue Neutron Beams and would have been strong enough to kill a person if they were holding the camera. The video was mostly colorful dots and beams of light as the extreme radiation distorted the electronics in the camera. With the radiation levels noted by the camera interruptions, it was claimed that a person would have been dead almost immediately upon entering the chamber. Therefore, the worry that this extreme nuclear waste could be seeping into the earth is frightening to many concerned about the unknown aspects of nuclear energy sources.
What do you think about all of the new Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster findings?
[Image via AP]