Diluted radiation plume may reach California on Friday, but health officials say it poses little risk

The radiation plume from Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors might brush the Aleutian Islands today and sweep into southern California by late Friday.

Health effects in the U.S. are expected to be minor, experts say, following the U.N. Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization projection showing of how weather patterns this week might disperse a highly diluted plume of radiation to U.S. shores by late Friday. The image of the projection on this page does not show actual levels of radiation. Instead, it shows how a continuous source of radiation in Fukushima, Japan might cross the Pacific, thus allowing estimates of when different monitoring stations – marked with small dots – might be able to detect actual low levels of radiation over the coming days.

The forecast for the possible path of the radiation plume from Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors suggests that the plume will brush the Aleutian Islands today and might sweep into southern California by late Friday. The projection is based on patterns of winds over the Pacific Ocean, indicating that the forecast path will change as weather systems change.

Health and nuclear experts stress that radiation in the plume will be diluted due to the distance it has traveled.

In a worst case scenario, it would pose only extremely minor health problems in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

New York Times animated version of the projected radiation path.

New York Times article: Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume

Deborah Byrd