buesselerBy Jeff Barnard / via adn.com / March 14, 2014 / Scientists have crowd-sourced a network of volunteers taking water samples at beaches along the West Coast in hopes of capturing a detailed look at low levels of radiation drifting across the ocean since the 2011 tsunami that devastated a nuclear power plant in Japan.

With the risk to public health extremely low, the effort is more about perfecting computer models that will better predict chemical and radiation spills in the future than bracing for a threat. Federal agencies are not sampling at the beach. The state of Oregon is sampling, but looking for higher levels closer to federal health standards.

The March 2011 tsunami off Japan flooded the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing radiation-contaminated water to spill into the Pacific. Airborne radiation was detected in milk in the U.S. soon afterward. But things move much more slowly in the ocean.

“We know there’s contaminated water coming out of there, even today,” Ken Buesseler (pictured), a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said in a video appealing for volunteers and contributions.

In fact, it is the biggest pulse of radioactive liquid dropped in the ocean ever, he said.

“What we don’t really know is how fast and how much is being transported across the Pacific,” he added. “Yes, the models tell us it will be safe. Yes, the levels we expect off the coast of the U.S. and Canada are expected to be low. But we need measurements, especially now as the plume begins to arrive along the West Coast.”

In an email from Japan, Buesseler said he hopes the sampling will go on every two or three months for the next two to three years.

Two different models have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals predicting the spread of radioactive isotopes of cesium and iodine from Fukushima. One, known as Rossi et al, shows the leading edge of the plume hitting the West Coast from southeast Alaska to Southern California by April. The other, known as Behrens et all, shows the plume hitting Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Washington by March 2016.

The isotopes have been detected at very low levels at a Canadian sampling point far out to sea earlier than the models predicted, but not yet reported at the beach, said Kathryn A. Higley, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University. The Rossi model predicts levels a little higher than the fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. The Behrens model predicts lower levels like those seen in the ocean in the 1990s, after the radiation had decayed and dissipated.

Both are a tiny fraction of federal health standards.

The crowdsourcing raised $29,945 from 225 people, enough to establish about 30 sampling sites in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and California, according to Woods Hole. The website so far has not reported any radiation.

Sara Gamble of Renton, Wash., the mother of a young child, raised $500 because she thinks it is important to know what is really going on. Woods Hole sent her a bucket, a funnel, a clipboard, a UPS shipping label, instructions and a big red plastic container for her sample. She went to Ocean Shores, Wash., a couple of weeks ago, collected her sample and shipped it off. No results have come back yet. To do another sample, she will have to raise another $500.

“I got lots of strange looks at the beach and the UPS Store, because it’s labeled ‘Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity,’ and it’s a big red bin,” she said. “But it’s funny, nobody would ask me anything out on the beach. I was like, ‘Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to ask?'”

Taking the sample has allayed her initial fears, but she still thinks it is important to know “because it affects our ecosystems, kids love to play in the water at the beach, and I want to know what’s there.”

SOURCE: Anchorage Daily News

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2014/03/14/3374681/scientists-expect-traces-of-ocean.html#storylink=cpy
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By Broc West| 9 Comments | Featured, News


  1. Are these the pre disaster limits they are comparing to? NO they are not. Since the disaster “acceptable levels” of radiation in water, air, and soil have been raised and continue to be raised by nuclear regulators which makes the clean up of nuclear waste less important because it’s closer to being, or is within “acceptable levels” of radiation. Why should we be raising acceptable levels, has it not always been dangerous? Greedy men with conflicts of interest have been a serious problem with modern society and will continue contributing to the demise of earth and well being of everyone on it in the name of profit and “cost saving stratagies”. Nuclear plants can be made safe but the costs involved are not deemed “practical” so corners are cut on systems that should be triple redundant or more, do not get the attintion they deserve. A nuclear plant should be made expected to fail and systems should be made so it will hut down and contain its self with out human intervention by/or interaction with controls. Not to be left entirely up to the people to control it resulting in “human error” if you have a human involved you will have errors, be it designing, building , operating and maintaining. Triple or quadruple redundancy is necessary in nuclear power.

    • oh no we are going to die

  2. I think it’s great that there is finally public interest in Pacific radiation levels and I truly hope WHOI reports accurate information. There have been models produced that show how radioactive isotopes like Cesium 137 tend to “stick together” in currents as they move across the ocean. These reports dispute the dilution theory of many of the main stream institutes, including WHOI, showing there could be isolated impact ares of very high radiation levels. The fact is no one really knows, yet…
    The other side of this story is that most of the funding for Woods Hole comes from the U.S. government and private energy companies. It begs the question of objective reporting and full data and disclosure to the public. The “acceptable radiation levels” were raised by the EPA less than 2 weeks after the explosions at Fukushima and they’re talking about raising them again. I guess we’ll never really know until the real effects of this catastrophe come to light.

  3. This is the silliest thing I have heard in a very very long time. Radioactive fallout was apparent as early as 6 days after the meltdown, in San Diego.

  4. Ken Buesseler is a LIAR , a SHILL and a GATEKEEPER for the “nuclear industry”. KEN BUESSELER is making money (extra money) with his bullshit scam in conjunction with the Woods Hole Institute. Follow the money!

  5. ** I meant: the costs involved are deemed “unpractical”

  6. I realize that the measurements being taken are that of top water. I think my question for scientists would be, does the radioactive material released by Fukushima actually float, or might it sink to the bottom of the ocean floor? If it does it would result in a calculation of almost negligible at the top but maybe very high at the bottom. If it melted into the floor over the years and they have not told us about it, that would contaminate ground water and therefore when making it to the ocean, could it STAY low instead of rising to the surface? Kind of like a “slow crawl”. And if it did stay low, and irradiated the plankton and other things that bottom feeders feed off of like shrimp, wouldn’t they wind up irradiated by it? And then they are consumed by larger fish, etc. to make it’s way this way without top water samples showing much?

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