Canadian scientists detect “significant” concentrations of radioactive material off West Coast, levels double in months since last test — Marine Chemist: “Much greater concern” over Fukushima releases that will be hitting shores of US & Canada; Lack of data “really disturbing” (AUDIO)

Published: November 10th, 2014 at 4:34 pm ET
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Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (pdf), Oct. 22, 2014 (emphasis added): Arrival of Fukushima radioactivity in North American continental waters… The radioactivity plume was transported northeastward towards North America by the Kuroshio Current… Water samples were collected… in June of 2011, 2012 and 2013 and February, 2014 on a line (Line P) extending to a location (Sta. P26), approximately 1500 km west of Victoria, BC… [W]ater samples collected in June, 2012 at Sta. P26 detected 134Cs at levels indicating the presence of contamination from the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident. The 2013 results revealed the presence of 134Cs in the upper 100 m along the entire length of Line P indicating that the Fukushima signal had fully arrived in Canadian territorial waters. Levels of Fukushima 137Cs were about 1 Bq/m3 in June, 2013 which is equivalent to previous background levels of 137Cs from atmospheric fallout. These levels had increased to values of about 2 Bq/m3 by February, 2014. These 137Cs concentrations are significant, but are several orders of magnitude below those that would be considered a threat to the environment or human health.

Call with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution marine chemist Ken Buesseler, June 2014:

  • At 25:45 in – Buesseler: The question is, ‘How much higher will [the concentration of radionuclides] get with the arrival of 134Cs and the other isotopes?’
  • At 2:745 in – Buesseler: A paper that came out last year [shows] in a couple of years it’s actually going to be higher than its going to be on the front edge, kind of makes sense. But what’s really disturbing, and what concerns me, is when I saw this paper was there were no data to test this.
  • At 44:45 in — Question: I’m wondering if there are other radionuclides that might not travel with the cesium. Maybe they’re just not as significant or not as many — but couldn’t there be other radionuclides, even if the cesium didn’t show up?… Buesseler: There are other isotopes that were released… What’s happening today off Japan… offshore, maybe 100 Bq/m3 of cesium, but the level of strontium-90 is almost the same… The ground waters that are a continued source tend to be enriched in strontium-90 [and] any number of isotopes including strontium-90… I would say the concern needs to move more towards strontium-90 and it is there at almost equal concentrations, it’s a bone-seeking isotope and therefore it stays in the fish for hundreds of days, not a couple of months, and in our systems as well… That is by far, to my mind, a much greater concern for new releases that will show up on our shores 3 years from now.
  • At 54:00 in — Buesseler: Those ocean currents would carry any isotope with them… 134Cs, it’s kind of like the canary in the coal mine [for] other isotopes… I share you’re concern about some of these fish, mammals… We need monitoring, we need measurements, and so far it’s taken the public to really make that happen in the ocean and the water, and I hope that it continues for other isotopes

Full teleconference here

Published: November 10th, 2014 at 4:34 pm ET
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