Researchers announced on Monday (February 24, 2014) that radiation from Japan’s leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant has reached waters offshore Canada. The scientists were speaking at a news conference at the annual American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu. The meeting is being held to discuss problems caused anywhere in the Pacific by the offshore earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.
The researchers said that two radioactive cesium isotopes, cesium-134 and cesium-137, have been detected offshore of Vancouver, British Columbia. John Smith, a research scientist at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia said that the detected concentrations are much lower than the Canadian safety limit for cesium levels in drinking water. Dr. Smith told the BBC:
These levels are still well below maximum permissible concentrations in drinking water in Canada for caesium-137 of 10,000 becquerels per cubic meter of water – so, it’s clearly not an environmental or human-health radiological threat.
Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole said that tests conducted at U.S. beaches indicate that Fukushima radioactivity has not yet reached Washington, California or Hawaii.
However, low levels of radioactive cesium from the stricken Japanese power plant could arrive by April, scientists reported at the meeting on Monday.
The scientists are tracking a radioactive plume from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Three nuclear reactors at the power plant melted down after the March 11, 2011, Tohoku earthquake. The meltdown was triggered by the massive tsunami that followed the quake.
Bottom line: On February 24, 2014, researchers at a news conference at the annual American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu announced that radiation from Japan’s leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant has reached waters offshore Canada.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.