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Radioactive Particles Found in California Wine

Researchers believe bottles produced after 2011 bear signature of Fukushima fallout
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2018 7:00 PM CDT
Wine produced in California after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster contains radioactive particles.   (Getty/cyano66)

(Newser) – Researchers say remnants of Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown have been detected in California wine. Per CNN, bottles of rosé and Cabernet sauvignon were tested for the radioactive isotope cesium-137, a byproduct of the fission of uranium-235, one of the substances in fuel rods used at the plant when it suffered catastrophic equipment failures following a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. French scientists this month submitted research to the Cornell University Library that showed some wines produced subsequent to the disaster were twice as radioactive than those made before.

While the news sounds jarring, and highlights the globe-spanning impacts of Fukushima and other nuclear disasters, experts say wine-lovers shouldn't be overly worried. Michael Pravikoff, a French physicist who worked on the study, told the New York Times that the levels of cesium-137 seen in the wine are not dangerous. Pravicoff also said the levels drop with each year. “These levels are so low, way below the natural radioactivity that’s everywhere in the world," Pravikoff told the paper. The California Department of Public Health released a statement assuring the public that the state's wines are safe. Since the disaster, cesium has been similarly observed in fish caught off the coast in the plant's vicinity. (Read more Fukushima Dai-ichi stories.)

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