Painting by Jonathan Raddatz
Because governments ditched their radiation testing programs after the Fukushima nuclear accident, Buesseler has to crowdfund his monitoring efforts.
Woods Hole announced last week:
Scientists monitoring the spread of radiation in the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear accident report finding an increased number of sites off the US West Coast showing signs of contamination from Fukushima. This includes the highest detected level to date from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco. [Fukushima is a little more than 5,000 miles from San Francisco. So this bit of radiation has already made it some 68% of the way from Fukushima to the West Coast of California] The level of radioactive cesium isotopes in the sample, 11 Becquerel’s per cubic meter of seawater (about 264 gallons), is 50 percent higher than other samples collected along the West Coast so far, but is still more than 500 times lower than US government safety limits for drinking water, and well below limits of concern for direct exposure while swimming, boating, or other recreational activities. [However, the government raised allowable radiation levels after Fukushima … “moving the goalposts” on what is safe. A well-developed body of science actually says that no amount of radiation exposure is safe.]
Through a citizen science sampling effort, Our Radioactive Ocean, that [Buesseler] launched in 2014, as well as research funded by the National Science Foundation, Buesseler and his colleagues are using sophisticated sensors to look for minute levels of ocean-borne radioactivity from Fukushima. In 2015, they have added more than 110 new samples in the Pacific to the more than 135 previously collected and posted on the Our Radioactive Ocean web site.
The recent findings reported by Buesseler agree with those reported by scientists who are part of the group Kelp Watch and by the team of Canadian scientists working under the InFORM umbrella. While Buesseler’s work focuses on ocean chemistry and does not involve sampling of biological organisms, the InFORM scientists have done sampling of fish and have not seen any Fukushima cesium in fish collected in British Columbia.
Reuters points out:
Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores… and contamination is increasing at previously identified sites… Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to leak… The latest readings measured the highest radiation levels outside Japanese waters to date some 1,600 miles (2,574 km) west of San Francisco. The figures also confirm that the spread of radiation to North American waters is not isolated to a handful of locations, but can be detected along a stretch of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) offshore.
Indeed, the West Coast of North American could be slammed by Fukushima radiation in the near future.