Fukushima Radiation Hits North America for 1st Time

Very, very little of it
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2015 9:37 AM CDT
Fukushima Radiation Hits North America for 1st Time
In this Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 photo, a baby orca swims near its mother near Vancouver Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands of British Columbia.   (AP Photo/Center for Whale Research, Ken Balcomb)

It's the nuclear meltdown that keeps on giving, albeit in pretty trace amounts: Radiation from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster has been detected four years after the fact along the shore of British Columbia's Vancouver Island, reports Reuters, marking the first time that the radiation has been noted along the actual North American shoreline. (USA Today in November reported that very tiny amounts had been found about 100 miles from Eureka, Calif.) As the CBC points out, we're talking about trace amounts: The February water samples from Vancouver Island measured 1.4 Becquerels of Cesium-134 and 5.8 Becquerels of Cesium-137 per cubic meter of water. For comparison, Canada allows 10,000 Becquerels of the latter in drinking water; tests off Japan's coast in 2011 found 50 million Becquerels.

"We knew four years later it would be reaching our shoreline, and we had seen it offshore, and these numbers are quite small," says Ken Buesseler, a scientist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which took the samples. "Even if they were twice as high and I was to swim there every day for an entire year, the dose I would be exposed to is a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray." He adds that similar amounts of radiation could hit the US West Coast, though "predicting the spread of radiation becomes more complex the closer it gets to the coast." Buesseler led the November study on the off-shore radiation as well. (More Fukushima Daiichi stories.)

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