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article imageRadioactive Fukushima waters detected by Canada's coastlines

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2014 in Environment
Radioactive cesium isotopes have been detected in the waters off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, although the levels detected are said to be below the permissible limits for drinking water.
On March 11, 2011, approximately 80 miles from the coast of Sendai, Japan, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred underwater. It is one of the largest recorded earthquakes in history and the ensuing tsunami created waves 133 feet high while ravaging its way almost six miles inland. One of the consequences was a reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The power plant began spewing radioactive material into the air, land, and ocean. Now the radioactivity has reached as far out as Western Canada.
Scientists were able to trace the radioactivity back to Fukushima because among the radioactive isotopes released from Fukushima were two isotopes of cesium, cesium-134 and cesium-137. Since cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life, it persists in the environment for decades and it is relatively easy to trace.
Monitoring stations in the ocean west of Vancouver have been registering slowly rising levels of cesium-134, reaching 0.9 Becquerels per cubic meter in June of 2013. However, the results have only recently been released (March 2014), according to Live Science.
Explaining why the Canadian government has not previously published the research, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Lisa Murphy, said in an email to Global News that despite not publishing any new results on the testing since March 2012, “the Government of Canada continues to monitor events in Japan and assess any potential impacts on Canada’s food supply. Part of the CFIA’s response included a sampling and testing strategy, which tested more than 200 food samples immediately following the situation in Japan in 2011,” adds Murphy. “This included imported food products from Japan, domestic milk from B.C. and migratory fish samples off the coast of B.C.”
This is supported by John Smith, a research scientist at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who 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."
However, not all environmental groups are convinced.
The cesium has not reached U.S. shores yet because of the direction of the Kuroshio Current that flows by Japan and across the North Pacific toward Canada. However, low levels of radioactive cesium from the stricken Japanese power plant could arrive by April.
This finding indicates that the long-term impact of the radiation leak on Japan and its neighboring countries will continue for many years.
More about fukushima, Radioactive, Water, Sea, Canada
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