U.S. Department of Commerce – NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (pdf), Dec 2015 (emphasis added): Results of testing for Fukushima Radiation in northern fur seals on St. Paul Island, AK – In summer 2014, NOAA Fisheries in partnership with Colorado State University collected tissue from northern fur seals harvested from St. Paul Island for lab testing of the radiation levels… We detected very small amounts of Fukushima-derived radioactive material in the seal tissue…
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Feb 2016: Fukushima-derived radiocesium was detected in migratory northern fur seal… In July 2014, our investigative team traveled to St. Paul Island, Alaska to measure concentrations of radiocesium in wild-caught food… [O]ther investigators have detected Fukushima-derived radionuclides in a variety of marine products harvested off the western coast of North America. We tested… 54 northern fur seal… when composited, northern fur seal tissues tested positive for trace quantities of [Cesium-134 adn Cesium-137]. Radiocesium was detected at an activity concentration of 37.2 mBq 134Cs kg [fresh weight, not dried] and 141.2 mBq 137Cs kg… indicating that this population of seals has been exposed to small quantities of Fukushima-derived radiocesium… [The] 2011 Tohoku earthquake… led to loss of containment [at the Fukushima nuclear power plant] and releases of radionuclides to the atmosphere and the marine environment… [M]arine releases may be ongoing due to groundwater seepage… The atmospheric plume from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors traveled east and passed over North America days after the initial release… The arrival of the Fukushima marine plume has aroused concern for some North American stakeholders, particularly those living near the coast and those who consume seafood from the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the potential effects of exposure to Fukushima derived radionuclides on sensitive marine species will need to be studied and understood in the coming years… Radiocesium biomagnifies through marine foodwebs…Thus the northern fur seal, a predator, should be an excellent sentinel of marine radiocesium in the North Pacific… Northern fur seal exposure to Fukushima radionuclides likely occurred via the consumption of fish or other prey from areas of the Pacific Ocean contaminated by the Fukushima marine release… the population likely has not been exposed to the higher concentrations found within the main body of the Fukushima marine plume… Radiocesium is unlikely to cause health impacts in northern fur seal or the human populations consuming this species.
Published: March 4th, 2016 at 5:12 pm ET
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