Researchers detect higher levels of radiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster off North America’s shores.
Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said on Thursday recent tests of Pacific Ocean water revealed that the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues contamination of the ocean with radioactive isotopes.
Buesseler said samples taken from several hundred miles off the shores of Oregon, Washington and California as well as Canada’s Vancouver island over the past few months tested positive for cesium-134.
Cesium-137 isotope was also detected at low levels in almost all seawater samples tested by Buesseler and his fellow researchers.
“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,” said Buesseler.
Last year, Buesseler said Fukushima radiation was detected in samples taken off the coast of northern California. In April, radiation was also identified off Canada’s shores.
The latest figures show that the spread of Fukushima radiation is not limited to certain locations, but can be found along a stretch of 1,000 miles offshore.
In March 2011, a massive tsunami triggered by a magnitude-9 quake filled the Fukushima nuclear cooling systems with water, sending some reactors into meltdown and sparking a decades-long cleanup effort by the Japanese government.
Shortly after the accident, radiation was released into the sea, food chain, and air, and now the Fukushima incident is the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.