Scientists have taken water samples all along the West Coast beaches, to test for radiation traces from the 2011 nuclear plant devastation that occurred in Japan. The nuclear disaster was caused by a tsunami that shattered the Japan coast.
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, experts say.
The March 2011 tsunami off the coast of Japan had flooded the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, causing radiation-contaminated water to spill into the Pacific Ocean. Airborne radiation was detected in milk and rainwater in the U.S. soon afterwards.
“We know there’s contaminated water coming out of there, even today,” Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
“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.”
The West Coast is at risk now for radiation contamination and nobody knows what the future will hold.