In March 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co.‘s Fukushima Dai-Ichi in Japan suffered damages when the area was hit by an earthquake and released “unprecedented levels” of radioactivity. Reactors in the plant exploded despite being cooled by plant workers. At least three reactors suffered meltdowns during the ensuing explosions. Radioactive chemicals then leaked into the ocean. The water that was used to cool the fuel rods leaked into the ocean as well, sending further contamination into the water. The plant was de-commissioned, but even years later the cleanup process is still ongoing and isn’t expected to be completed for decades at least.
In 2013, Canadian oceanographers reported the presence of cesium-134 off the shores of Vancouver Island. According to Dictionary.com, cesium-134 is an isotope used in nuclear development that has a short half-life (decay’s to half of original amount within two years). An isotope, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties; in particular, a radioactive form of an element.”
Earlier this week, oceanographers detected levels of cesium-134 about 100 miles off of California’s northern coast. They assure the public that levels are far below any that could be a measurable health risk. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said on its website that the radioactivity detected off of California’s coast is more than 1,000 times lower than acceptable limits in drinking water set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ken Buesseler, marine chemist leading the analysis said that a swimmer who spent 6 hours a day for a year in water with 10 Bacquerels per cubic meter of cesium-134 would still receive 1,000 times less radiation than a dose from a single dental X-ray. A Becquerel is a unit of measure based on the number of radioactive decay events per second per 260 gallons of water, according to LiveScience.com. Buesseler stated, “It’s not a public health threat, but those last 100 miles are pretty tricky.”
The plant operator of the plant in Fukushima said in an emailed statement that the radiation’s spread had been expected and that the co. has significantly improved water management at the site since the accident.
Watch the video of the nuclear plant explosion here: