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Fukushima radiation off California coast

Fukushima radiation off California coast

2014-11-10 22:36

Reporters inspect an observation well which is dug to take underground water samples near Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Unit 1 of Tepco, in Okuma. (File, AP)

Los Angeles - Researchers announced on Monday they have detected "trace" amounts of radioactivity stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident off the coast of California.

In a press release, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute said they detected cesium-134, a radioactive contaminant traceable only to Fukushima, in water samples taken from the Pacific Ocean 100 miles west of Eureka, California.

"The levels are only detectable by sophisticated equipment able to discern minute quantities of radioactivity," said marine chemist Ken Buesseler.

The amount detected, less than two becquerels per cubic meter, is "far below where one might expect any measurable risk to human health or marine life, according to international health agencies," the institute said.

It is more than 1 000 times lower than US limits to levels in drinking water, it added.

This was the first time radioactivity stemming from the March 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident has been detected in US waters. Canadian scientists detected similar amounts of cesium-134 off the coast of Canada in February 2014.

Scientists predict radioactivity from Fukushima will move down the US coast from Canada and eventually west toward Hawaii.

Since January 2014, Buesseler has led a crowd-funded citizen science program to collect and analyse water samples from the North American Pacific coast and Hawaii. No US federal agency currently monitors radioactivity in coastal waters.


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