Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Fukushima Radioactive Plume to Hit the U.S. by 2014

Energy

CleanTechnica

By Nathan August

The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will finally be reaching the shores of the U.S. sometime in 2014, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales—a full three or so years after the date of the disaster.

Surface (0–200m) of Cesium-137 concentrations (Bq/m3) by (a)April 2012, (b) April 2014 (c) April 2016 and (d) April 2021. Image Credit: University of New South Wales

Many researchers, and also officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), have argued that the radioactive particles that do make their way to the U.S. will have a very limited effect on human health—as the concentration of radioactive material in U.S. waters will be well below WHO safety levels. But needless to say, there is some debate on this matter…

For the new work, the researchers utilized a number of different ocean simulations to track the path of the radiation from the Fukushima incident—the models used have identified the most likely path that the plume will take over the next ten years.

“Observers on the west coast of the U.S. will be able to see a measurable increase in radioactive material three years after the event,” stated study author Dr. Erik van Sebille. “However, people on those coastlines should not be concerned as the concentration of radioactive material quickly drops below World Health Organization safety levels as soon as it leaves Japanese waters.”

The University of New South Wales has more:

Two energetic currents off the Japanese coast—the Kuroshio Current and the Kurushio Extension—are primarily responsible for accelerating the dilution of the radioactive material, taking it well below WHO safety levels within four months.

Eddies and giant whirlpools—some tens of kilometers wide—and other currents in the open ocean continue this dilution process and direct the radioactive particles to different areas along the U.S. west coast.

Interestingly, the great majority of the radioactive material will stay in the North Pacific, with very little crossing south of the Equator in the first decade. Eventually over a number of decades, a measurable but otherwise harmless signature of the radiation will spread into other ocean basins, particularly the Indian and South Pacific oceans.

“Although some uncertainties remain around the total amount released and the likely concentrations that would be observed, we have shown unambiguously that the contact with the north-west American coasts will not be identical everywhere,” stated Dr. Vincent Rossi.

“Shelf waters north of 45°N will experience higher concentrations during a shorter period, when compared to the Californian coast. This late but prolonged exposure is due to the three-dimensional pathways of the plume. The plume will be forced down deeper into the ocean toward the subtropics before rising up again along the southern Californian shelf.”

“Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere will see little if any radioactive material in their coastal waters and certainly not at levels to cause concern,” Dr. van Sebille continued.

Those interested in doing so can track the path of the radiation on a website created by the researchers.

The new research was just published new in the journal Deep-Sea Research 1.

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Examples (from left) of a lead pipe, a corroded steel pipe and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. U.S. EPA Region 5

Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.

Read More Show Less
ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less
A woman scoops water in a dry riverbed near Kataboi village in remote Turkana in northern Kenya. Marisol Grandon / Department for International Development

By Raya A. Al-Masri

Different strategies for resisting the spread of the new coronavirus have emerged in different countries. But the one that has cut through everywhere is simple and, supposedly, can be done by anyone: "Wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds."

Read More Show Less