West Coast radiation from Fukushima disaster poses no risk, experts say

By Tony Barboza – L.A. Times –

Radiation detected off the U.S. West Coast from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan has declined since the 2011 tsunami disaster and never approached levels that could pose a risk to human health, seafood or wildlife, scientists say.

Experts have been trying to dispel worries stemming from a burst of online videos and blog posts in recent months that contend radiation from Fukushima is contaminating beaches and seafood and harming sea creatures across the Pacific.

Those assertions are false and the concerns largely unfounded, scientists and government officials said last week, because Fukushima radionuclides in ocean water and marine life are at trace levels and declining — so low that they are trivial compared with what already exists in nature.

“There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Concentrations of radioactive cesium from the nuclear plant that were detected in the tissue of bluefin tuna, which migrate from waters near Japan across the Pacific to the coast of California and Mexico, were very low to begin with and have been falling since 2011, said Nicholas Fisher, a professor of marine science at Stony Brook University.

“The dose is measurable but it’s extremely low,” said Fisher, an expert on marine radioactivity.

Even at its worst in the months after the disaster, the dose of radioactivity that Fisher’s lab found in tuna caught off California was far lower than what people are exposed to from medical X-rays or eating bananas or other potassium-rich foods, which contain naturally occurring radioactive isotopes.

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