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Crowdsourced radiation monitoring website to measure Fukushima’s footprint

Ever since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant three years ago, public fears about nuclear fallout have been high, both in Japan and increasingly in the United States. A scientist from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution would like to channel that anxiety into information by enlisting the public to fund and participate in a project to monitor radiation levels along the West Coast, just as the isotopes ferried across the Pacific are projected to arrive this spring.

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole, announced Tuesday the launch of ourradioactiveocean.com, a website that will allow people and communities to propose sampling sites along the Pacific coast.

Buesseler is quick to point out that the levels of radiation exposure predicted by a number of models is well below the federal regulations for acceptable radiation exposure in drinking water. The expected radiation exposure in waters off the West Coast range from 1 to 30 Becquerels per cubic meter– far below the federal drinking water limit of 7,400 Becquerels per cubic meter.

He does not expect to find unsafe levels of radiation, but he thinks the levels should be measured to allay people’s fears and to contribute to science, allowing regulators and oceanographers to get a better handle on how ocean currents travel. He is specifically interested in parts of the northern United States and Alaska, because the radioactive isotopes are projected to arrive there first.
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