Video (13 sec.) by Ken Kostel © Woods Hole
The devastating explosions in 2011 at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan released huge quantities of radioactive isotopes into the ocean and our atmosphere.
Small quantities were measured in North America within days, as some of the nuclear fuel was vaporized and carried eastward on the jet streams. Most of the initial fallout occurred over the Pacific Ocean and was carried in plumes by oceanic currents. By the summer of 2013 very low levels were already being detected in BC's coastal waters.
While the initial releases from Fukushima were similar or greater than from Chernobyl, most scientists have predicted that ultimately, concentrations here on the west coast of North America will be well below levels of concern. Others, however, contend that with ongoing contamination from the uncontained cores in Japan, bioaccumulation will result in serious consequences for our wildlife and human health.
Unfortunately the monitoring of air, water and food has been deficient, both in Canada and the USA. Woods Hole Oceanographic Insitution's Senior Scientist, Dr. Ken Buesseler, says monitoring has fallen through the cracks between agencies, and in response, he has mounted a crowd-funded program to fill this gap.
What does all of this mean for those of us living downwind and down-current from Japan? What can we do to address this issue?
We encourage you to check out some of the links below, which offer a variety of viewpoints as well as a great deal of information and additional resources.
Note: inclusion does not necessarily imply endorsement by GSA.
General Info & Current News:
- Anthropenic Radionuclides in the Marine Environment: A Selected Bibliography - lists and online links to Fukushima-related studies from the NOAA library covering distribution, transport, ecological effectsand potential risk to human health.
- #Fukushima Dailynews: an up-to-date aggregator of world-wide media news stories shared on Twitter.
- NucNews: links to all the latest nuclear-related stories from the international media, updated daily.
- News Now - Fukushima Nuclear Crisis: a UK-based independent news portal with breaking headlines linking to news websites around the world, updated every five minutes, 24/7.
- Enenews (Energy News): an up-to-date news aggregator on Fukushima and other radiological crises, including lively citizen forums on health and safety, radiation monitoring, effects of low level radiation, alternative energy and more.
Air & Ocean Monitoring
- Fukushima Radioactive Aerosol Disperson (Science on a Sphere, NOAA): includes interactive sphere model and an animated video of Fukushima radiation being dispersed over the Pacific Ocean ("View Movie" under "Details" in the right column).
- Our Radioactive Ocean: help scientists from the Center for Marine and Environmental Radiation at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution track the spread of radiation across the Pacific. Citizens are invited to propose locations, help in sampling, view the ongoing results and learn more about radiation.
- RadiationNetwork: National Radiation Map of environmental radiation levels across the US (plus some Canadian sites), as well as sites around the world. Updated in real time every minute through a citizen monitoring network which welcomes new participants.
Food Safety & Monitoring
- Post-Fukushima Food Monitoring in the US (video): a presentation to the New York Academy of Medicine in March 2013, with useful background information on radiation and the risks of bioaccumulation.
- With radiation in food safety limits 10x weaker than Japan's, North American food and agricultural imports from Japan escalate: (Jan. 2014) informative article with linked citations, comparing allowable radiation limits in food for Canada, the US, the EU and Japan, and exploring what might be behind these discrepancies.
- Canada's Land of Milk and Strontium 90 (EnviroReporter.com, Feb. 2013) - well documented report on Canada's food radiation testing and standards, the impacts of Strontium 90 on the body and a historical perspective on this issue. Written by two multiple award-winning investigative journalists based on Canada's west coast, who have reported extensively on Fukushima and carried out thousands of radiation tests across North America.
- The Food Lab: an Australian volunteer-run testing lab, working to protect children and the community by testing foods for radioactive contamination. Includes links to useful and available tools and related testing around the world, including Canada.
- Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation: UNSCEAR's 2013 report to the UN General Assembly, including the agency's assessment of levels of radiation exposure from Fukushima and impacts on human health and non-human biota in and around Japan.
- Annotated Critique of UNSCEAR's Fukishima Report (Oct. 2013): detailed but readable response by Physicians for Social Responsibility (USA), Physicians for Global Survival (Canada) and 11 other national chapters of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
- Even low-level radioactivity is damaging, scientists conclude (ScienceDaily) - a report on results of a wide-ranging meta-analysis of scientific studies around the world over the past 40 years.
- How to Reduce Your Risk of Radiation from Fukushima (Washington's Blog): practical steps to reduce our exposure to and risk from radiation, with a focus on alternative medicine/holistic approaches; includes linked citations.