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Fukushima radiation found off Canada’s west coast

8 April 2015 16:48


A seawater sample collected near Canada’s west coast has revealed traces of radioactive contamination originating from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011, a monitoring group says.

Scientists for the first time discovered traces of Cesium 134 off North American coasts, the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) Network stated on its website on Monday.

However, the sample contained levels of Cesium “well below internationally established levels that might represent a danger to human or environmental health,” InFORM said.

The levels of Cesium 134 are about 1,000 times lower than what is regarded as safe in drinking water by the international community, said one of the group’s scientists, Professor Jay Cullen from the University of Victoria.

He added that computer models had predicted the arrival of the contamination on North America’s coasts at about this time.

The sample was collected off the coast of British Columbia in February.

People line up for radiation screening in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on March 21, 2011.
Several more years of monitoring are required to determine the full environmental impact of the Fukushima disaster, InFORM said.

Nuclear radiation exposure can cause serious health problems in humans. The first signs of nuclear radiation exposure are nausea and vomiting.

Exposure increases the probability of developing some other diseases, mainly cancer, tumors, and genetic disorders.

Meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan (file photo)
Chronicle of Fukushima disaster

The Fukushima disaster took place on March 11, 2011 when the area was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

The nuclear plant, located on Japan’s northeast coast, suffered multiple meltdowns following the disaster. The destroyed reactors have leaked radiation into air, soil and the Pacific Ocean ever since.

The incident, which is regarded as the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, also led to the evacuation of 160,000 people.

Four years on, some 120,000 people have not been able to return to their homes due to radioactive contamination.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised that his government will take prompt steps to clean up the wrecked power station. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, has said the clean-up will take decades and will cost more than 150 billion dollars.

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