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Fukushima Radiation Levels Low Along West Coast

Fukushima radiation levels low along West Coast according to researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the Oregon Health Authority. Three years after being struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ferocious tsunami that killed over 15,000 people, Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant continues to leak radioactivity and irradiated materials. As well, it is feared that radioactive debris from the plant may have been swept into the ocean when the wave retreated, potentially increasing the amount of radioactive materials in the Pacific Ocean. Numerous reports of contaminated cooling water pouring out of damaged storage tanks and into the ocean have surfaced, further stoking fires of doomsday prophecies and intense fears. But how extreme is the radiation along the West Coast?

The most common nucleotides are Caesium 134 and 137. Both isotopes are created after Caesium is used to create fission in nuclear power plants, and Caesium 137 is responsible for much of the concern regarding how to deal with unwanted nuclear waste. It has a half-life of 30 years, meaning that in that time the intensity of its radioactivity is reduced by half. The half-life of Caesium 134 is just over 2 years, and so it does not cause as much concern in small amounts. Both isotopes emit gamma radiation as they decay, and both readily mix with water and air before being deposited on surface soil where they remain before being removed by particle transport.

After the Fukushima leak was announced, thousands of gallons of cooling water laden with Caesium 134 and 137 isotopes were accidentally lost into the Pacific, causing many to worry that the radiation would travel along ocean currents and affect animals and people living half the world away along the North American West Coast. But now, after dozens of researchers have shown that Fukushima radiation levels are low along West Coast beaches, public alarm and outrage is gradually decreasing.
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