Russia sends third expedition to Kuril Islands to monitor radiation levels Source via Russia Beyond the Headlines

Radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant does not threaten Russian territory. However, the consequences of the 2011 accident will be felt for decades to come. RBTH spoke to the scientists involved with the third expedition to be sent to the Kuril Islands in the Russian Far East in order to monitor the radiation.


In the space of a month, the expedition plans on crossing the Sea of Japan and sailing along the eastern shores of the Kuril Islands, a narrow chain of isles stretching 800 miles from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The scientists’ principal aim is to monitor radiation levels in the area affected by the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011. This is the third expedition since the disaster. The first one took place right after the catastrophe, the second – a year later.

The new expedition is being carried out under the aegis of the Russian Geographical Society and has been organized by the State Oceanographic Institute. Aboard the vessel are collaborators from state nuclear corporation Rosatom, the Ministry of Defense, the Russian Hydro-Meteorological Institute, the Rospotrebnadzor Monitoring Agency and the Nevelsky Naval University.

Results from past expeditions showed that pollution was almost zero and the biggest threat to Russia was the accumulation of radiation in fish.


According to Shabalev, during the new expedition tests will be carried out on atmospheric aerosols. Marine water in all planned locations will be tested for Caesium-137 and Strontium-90, while some water will be tested for plutonium isotopes and some for Tritium. “Moreover, we plan on testing for radionuclides in certain sea organisms, and land and vegetation will be examined on the islands themselves,” added Shabalev.

Shabalev remarked that the samples that were taken in 2011 and 2012 “showed that everything is pretty much clean, but it is nevertheless necessary to obtain new data.”

How the radiation spread

“Despite the proximity of the Russian islands to Japan, after the accident in Fukushima only miniscule amounts of radiation spread to the Kuril Islands,” said Sergei Panchenko, a collaborator at the Laboratory of Radioecology of the Institute of Safe Development of Atomic Energy within the Russian Academy of Sciences. The thing is that “the radioactive cloud first drifted over the Pacific Ocean, North America and Europe” and only then came to Russia.

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