Lake Barrett, former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official and now an adviser to Tepco, March 30, 2011 (at 36:00 in): The environmental release is the growing challenge; you’re going to read more and more about it in the paper. Wait until the first cesium-137 shows up in Alaska salmon, which is only a matter of time. You’re going to find it right back in the headlines.
Congressional Research Service, 2012: As it approaches the west coast of North America, the North Pacific Current splits into the southward California Current and the northward Alaska Current. Although these currents have the potential for bringing radiation from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident to U.S. waters, their flow is slow [...] Regardless of the slow flow, radioactive contaminants with long half-lives (e.g., cesium-137, with a half-life of about 30 years) could still pose concerns if transported over long distances by ocean currents. [...] Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution advised that radiation levels in seafood should continue to be monitored [...] there remains the slight potential for a relatively narrow corridor of highly contaminated water leading away from Japan and a very patchy distribution of contaminated fish―extensive monitoring will determine the exact dispersion of these radioactive contaminants. [...] It has been suggested that cesium-137 may move up the food chain and become concentrated in fish muscle or that radiation hot spots may occur. Another potential concern is related to accumulation of strontium-90 in fish bone [...] additional radiation from [Fukushima] might eventually also be detected in North Pacific waters under U.S. jurisdiction, even months after its release. Regardless of slow ocean transport, the long half-life of radioactive cesium isotopes means that radioactive contaminants could remain a valid concern for years.
Published: November 22nd, 2013 at 12:48 pm ET