By Clarissa Toll |Staff Writer|
Three hundred tons of nuclear radiation contaminated water is seeping into the ocean everyday, and oceanographers expect it to hit the West Coast as early as 2014.
The radiation is due to the Fukushima power plant melt down caused by the 2011 earthquake in Japan.
According to Discovery News, a “radioactive plume” of water will hit West Coast shores early in 2014 and peak in 2016.
Though this is an ongoing situation in Japan, Californians might not need to worry, but there have been speculations of beach closures due to heightened radiation concentrations. Dr. Jeffrey Hackel from the Environmental Sciences department of CSUSB ensures, “some locations [will] have higher levels than others, but beaches will remain safe.”
Discovery News argues that because of two key ocean currents, the contaminated water will be diluted enough to adhere to safety levels by the time it reaches West Coast shores and will not cause harm to humans.
“There is no acceptable minimum dose for exposure to Ionizing Radiation. Anything above ‘zero’ is a health hazard,” stated Harold Saive on the blog GeoEngineering Exposed. “Especially if the radiation-tainted fish or food is swallowed to come into intimate contact with internal tissues, brain and blood.”
Fish and seafood are a large part of California’s revenue and food intake, the heightened radiation could cause a shift in the way residents and those in other states eat.
When recorded in August 2012, 15 Bluefin tuna were caught off the coast of California, all subjects tested positive for radiation.
Scientists know with an incoming plume of radioactive contaminated water, the radiation could in fact increase within the population of ocean inhabitants.
“Unlike some other compounds, radioactive cesium does not quickly sink to the sea bottom, but remains dispersed in the water column, from the surface to the ocean floor,” stated Daniel Madigan of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, in his interview with the Chicago Tribune.
“Fish can swim right through it, ingesting it through their gills, by taking in seawater or by eating organisms that have already taken it in,” continued Madigan.
Dr. Hackel believes the public’s consumption and seafood would be based on a personal evaluation, “It is likely that West Coast caught fish eaten in moderation will not be harmful, but there is much to learn as the complexity of the ocean currents, the nature of the radiation, and the levels of radiation has to be assessed on an on-going basis,” said Dr. Hackel.
When asked how contaminated seafood would affect her eating habits, student Yessenia Smullen said, “I would definitely be more mindful of where I bought fish or checking the location of where it came from and as for whether I would stop eating it, I would probably wait until scientists could conclude what species the radiation was limited.”
Over the last few years the radioactive contamination has been rumored to have taken its toll on wildlife and produced many side effects.
This past spring sea lion deaths were at an all time high. Biologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated, “Consistent findings in the sea lions are emaciation and dehydration with most animals very underweight for their age.”
“If not directly from radioactive contamination, which has not been ruled out since some Fukushima radioactive debris has washed ashore on the West Coast, then the indirect consequences of radioactive plankton could be at the bottom of this seal pup tragedy,” stated PF Louis in his article on naturalnews.com
As the water that contains heightened levels of radiation continues to move towards the West Coast, scientists continue to monitor and study its characteristics.