Radiation that leaked after the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached the West Coast of the United States. Samples drawn from beaches of Oregon have confirmed the presence of the cesium-134 isotope, which is labeled as the “fingerprint” of Fukushima.
Researchers claim seaborne radiation that originated from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster was recently detected on Oregon shores. Seawater samples drawn from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach reported positive results for radiation from the nuclear disaster. The tests, conducted by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, mainly looked for cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima. They claim that since cesium-134 has a radioactive half-life of just 2.06 years, it could have only originated from Fukushima, reported USA Today.
Besides hitting the West Coast of United States, cesium-134 has also been detected for the first time in a Canadian salmon, reported the Fukushima InFORM project that’s led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen. The samples were taken last winter and later analyzed, reported the Statesman Journal.
Within a span of just five years, the nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean, reported Zero Hedge. The tsunami that caused a meltdown of the TEPCO nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, resulted in the largest release of radiation into the water in the history of the world. Over the course of a few months after the disaster, radioactive chemicals, some in even greater quantities than Chernobyl, leaked into the Pacific Ocean.
Shockingly, the failed nuclear power plant continues to leak huge amounts of radioactive waste in the Pacific Ocean every day. While the official estimates offered by Japanese officials continue to be challenged for allegedly being flawed or highly conservative, experts in the field claim the plant is leaking close to 300 tons of radioactive waste per day. Worryingly, this massive leak hasn’t been plugged yet. In other words, the plant will continue to contaminate the oceans until Japan seals the leak. Unfortunately, neither humans nor robots can venture anywhere close to the reaction chamber owing to extremely high temperatures.
Surprisingly, several locals claim the plant was structurally and technically flawed. However, the massive radiation leak occurred following the crippling of the nuclear plant by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011. While staggering amounts of radiation continue to spread through seawater, a significant quantity was released to the air and then fell to the sea.
The Oregon seawater samples showing trace amounts of cesium-134 mark the first time the radioactive material has been detected on U.S. shores. Both the samples measured 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter of cesium-134. The isotope was previously detected in a sample of seawater taken from a dock on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Should Americans be concerned about the discovery of cesium-134 in their seawater? Fortunately, the amount of cesium-134 discovered in the single sockeye salmon, sampled from Okanagan Lake in the summer of 2015, is more than 1,000 times lower than the action level that warrants an alarm. In other words, the amount poses no significant risk to humans or animals. In fact, experts advise the fish is safe to consume.
Incidentally, samples drawn from the West Coast have shown higher-than-background levels of cesium-137, another isotope used in Fukushima that is already present in the world’s oceans due to extensive nuclear testing conducted in the 1950-60s. Cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life. Still, the amounts discovered in America’s seawater pose no threat. However, the presence of the isotopes on the West Coast indicates the nuclear disaster’s fallout has spread throughout a vast area from Alaska to California.
The defunct Fukushima plant currently holds more than a thousand huge steel tanks of contaminated radioactive water. Moreover, hundreds of tons of molten fuel are still present inside the failed reactors. Scientists fear the fuel might rupture the steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels and seep into the ground, which would result in massive radiation leak that would be disastrous.
[Featured Image by Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty Images]