Skip to content


Fukushima Wash-Up Fears in U.S. Belie Radiation Risks: Energy via Bloomberg

Seaborne radiation from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will wash up on the West Coast of the U.S. this year.

That’s raising concerns among some Americans including the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fairfax, which passed a resolution on Dec. 6 calling for more testing of coastal seafood.

At the same time, oceanographers and radiological scientists say such concerns are unwarranted given existing levels of radiation in the ocean.

The runoff from the Japanese plant will mingle with radiation released by other atomic stations, such as Diablo Canyon in California. Under normal operations, Diablo Canyon discharges more radiation into the sea, albeit of a less dangerous isotope, than the Fukushima station, which suffered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

[...]

Between May 2011 and August 2013, as many as 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 40 trillion becquerels of tritium entered the ocean via groundwater, according to Tokyo Electric.

Cesium isotopes, which emit flesh-penetrating gamma rays, are among the most dangerous radionuclides emitted by the plant, said Colin Hill, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

Strontium-90, which mimics calcium, increases the exposure risk for humans by remaining in the bones of fish for extended periods. While tritium is less radiologically intense than cesium and passes through fish faster than strontium, it can also contaminate sea creatures that encounter the isotope in high levels, Hill said.

[...]

Less than 100 miles up the coast from Dempski’s home, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo discharged 323 million liters of water into the Pacific in 2012, or about 870 tons a day, according to data from the company on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s website. That’s equivalent to 130 Olympic swimming pools and more than twice the daily amount leaking from Fukushima.

Inadvertent Contact

That water contained 3,670 curies of tritium, or 136 trillion becquerels, according to the company, almost three-and-a-half times the amount released from the Fukushima plant into the ocean in the period starting May 2011. The plant also discharged cesium-137, though at lower levels than Fukushima, while its output of strontium-90 is below detectable levels.

Diablo Canyon’s discharges are regulated by the NRC and the plant complies with its licensing requirements, PG&E spokesman Blair Jones said in an e-mail. Total liquid discharges from Diablo Canyon in 2012 were 0.0165 percent of what the NRC allows, Jones said.

The radioactivity in plant wastewater comes from inadvertent contact between the isotopes and cooling water pumped through nuclear plants.

Read more at Fukushima Wash-Up Fears in U.S. Belie Radiation Risks: Energy

Posted in *English.

Tagged with , , , , , .


0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.



Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.