Scientists predict radioactive cesium-137 from Fukushima to reach North American coast soon

FukushimaFallout from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in northern Japan in March 2011 continues to mount, as scientists now estimate that radioactive materials from the contaminated site are likely to reach North American shores later this year.  “Following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, large amounts of water contaminated with radionuclides, including Cesium-137, were released into the Pacific Ocean. With a half-life of 30.1 years, Cs-137 has the potential to travel large distances within the ocean,” says the abstract of a recent study produced by researchers from Australia, France and Spain.  “Using an ensemble of regional eddy-resolving simulations, this study investigates the long-term ventilation pathways of the leaked Cs-137 in the North Pacific Ocean,” said the abstract, adding that the scientists believe that, based on their projections, the radioactive materials “are projected to reach the northwestern American coast and the Hawaiian archipelago by early 2014.”  The researchers also concluded that, based on modeling, the radioactive materials are likely to plague U.S. and international waters for some time. “This late but prolonged exposure is related to subsurface pathways of mode waters, where Cs-137 is subducted toward the subtropics before being upwelled from deeper sources along the southern Californian coast,” said their abstract. “The model suggests that Fukushima-derived Cs-137 will penetrate the interior ocean and spread to other oceanic basins over the next two decades and beyond.” More
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