Fukushima Radioactivity Detected on North American Shoreline

Radioactivity from the 2011 accident detected in British Columbia.

“Radioactivity can be dangerous, and we should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,” said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the private nonprofit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution based in Cape Cod, Mass., adding however that the levels detected were “extremely low.”

The sample collected on Feb. 19 in Ucluelet, British Columbia, contained trace amounts of cesium-134 and -137 that are believed to be below internationally established levels of concern to humans and marine life.

“If someone were to swim for 6 hours a day every day of the year in water that contained levels of cesium twice as high as the Ucluelet sample, the radiation dose they would receive would still be more than one thousand times less than that of a single dental x-ray,” according to a statement published by Woods Hole.

The group, who is also working with Japanese experts, expects to find more sites with detectable levels of cesium-134 in coming months, but warns that predicting the spread of radiation becomes more complex the closer it gets to the coast.