Fukushima radiation has been detected in seawater samples from Oregon shores, but it is said to be harmless to humans and the environment.
In March 2011, contaminated water was released from the Japan nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, and the radiation has made its way across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S.
According to the Statesman Journal, researchers say the radiation in the samples from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach isn’t harmful because it was detected at very low levels.
This is the first time cesium-134, which has a radioactive half-life of a little more than two years, meaning it could only have come from Fukushima, has been detected on U.S. shores.
The Oregon samples were taken in January and February of this year, but weren’t analyzed until much later.
However, Oregon isn’t the only place where Fukushima radiation has been discovered: An oceanographer reported last month he found the isotope in a Canadian salmon harvested in 2015.
University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, who leads the Fukushima InFORM project to assess radiological risks, said the salmon tested positive for cesium-134, but because of its extreme low levels, it didn’t pose a threat to consumers.
“It appears that the plume has spread throughout this vast area from Alaska to California,” scientists wrote in an InFORM analysis, the Statesman Journal reported.
“As the contamination plume progresses towards our coast we expect levels closer to shore to increase over the coming year,” Cullen added.
In the meantime, Japan projected Fukushima cleanup costs to be nearly $190 billion, nearly doubling the previous estimate, Reuters reported, with consumers likely seeing increases in utility bills to help pay for it.
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