Isotope from Fukushima has travelled as far as the United States.
The catastrophic triple meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants international headlines back in 2011. Throughout the nail-biting crisis, the Japanese government and the parent company of the planet, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that the damage caused by the dramatic meltdown had been minimal and that there would be no long-term ill-effects. However, independent researchers have suggested that these assurances were beyond optimistic. They have found that serious environmental damage has been caused by the meltdowns and that this damage has spread as far as the mainland of the United States.
Many of the leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are considered to be unrepairable. The consequence of this is that the plant is still pumping a huge amount of contaminated, radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. The analysis suggests that this volume could be as much as 300 tons every single day. According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), this radioactive water has reached the United States. They report that they have detected a seaborne cesium 134 in seawater on the shores of Tillamook Bay in Oregon. Analysis of the isotope conclusively proved that it originated in Fukushima.
Japanese citizens have been warned that the meltdown posed no immediate threat to their health in the aftermath of the disaster. However, this claim has been called into question in the past few years owing to the sudden spike in cancer deaths in the immediate region. Now that the contamination has spread further afield, there are fears that the meltdown could now pose a threat to the lives of American citizens living along the Pacific coast.
Much of the concern relates to a process called bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is chemicals are absorbed into the body of an organism over a prolonged period at a faster rate than they are expelled from the body. Marine animals which are constantly exposed to radioactive water could easily become toxic in this way and therefore could pose a serious health hazard to anyone who consumed them, especially children. Owing to the FDA’s particularly lax rate of inspection of fish products in the United States, there is now a worry that thousands of people could be exposed to fish imbued with radioactive toxins.
There is also significant cause for concern about what the radioactivity in the water could mean for marine life. The past few years have witnessed an unprecedented level of fish deaths and decimation of coral populations. These environmental factors combined with continuing over-fishing have led the World Wildlife Fund to warn that marine life, in general, is currently facing an existential threat.
However, if the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company are intent on downplaying the extent of the damage caused by the meltdown, then it is very unlikely that any of these serious issues can be rectified at any point shortly.