For the first time, scientists have detected small amounts of radioactivity in seawater along the shores of British Columbia that can be traced back to the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. But the levels are so low they are likely of little concern.
Scientists with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts reported Monday that a water sample collected in mid-February from a dock in Ucluelet, on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, contained trace amounts of cesium-134 and cesium-137 – isotopes that only come from human sources.
However, the levels detected in the sample were so low that even if someone were to swim for six hours a day, every day of the year in water containing twice as much cesium, the radiation received would still be 1,000 times less than what they would receive from a single dental X-ray.
Still, researchers say this is the first detectable of radioactivity from Fukushima found in a water sample taken from the U.S. and Canadian West Coast.
They say they are certain the radioactivity came from Fukushima because cesium-134 has half-life of only two years, meaning the cesium decays relatively rapidly, and the only recent source of cesium-134 has been Fukushima.
The discovery comes a full four years after the nuclear disaster, when three nuclear power reactors damaged by a tsunami began to melt down, spilling contaminated water into the sea.
WHOI scientists have been collecting water sample from more than 60 sites along the U.S. and Canadian West Coast and Hawaii over the past 15 months, with the help of volunteer citizens, looking for traces of the radiation on this side of the ocean.
Continue reading at First low-level trace of Fukushima radioactivity detected off B.C.