Fukushima radioactive plume to reach US in three years

Aug 28, 2013
Fukushima radioactive plume to reach US in three years
Surface (0–200m) of Cesium-137 concentrations (Bq/m3) by (a)April 2012, (b) April 2014 (c) April 2016 and (d) April 2021

The radioactive ocean plume from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster will reach the shores of the US within three years from the date of the incident but is likely to be harmless according to new paper in the journal Deep-Sea Research 1.

While was detected on the US west coast within days of the incident, the radioactive particles in the plume take considerably longer to travel the same distance.

In the paper, researchers from the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and others used a range of ocean simulations to track the path of the radiation from the Fukushima incident.

The models identified where it would likely travel through the world's oceans for the next 10 years.

"Observers on the west coast of the United States will be able to see a measurable increase in radioactive material three years after the event," said one of the paper's authors, Dr Erik van Sebille.

"However, people on those should not be concerned as the concentration of radioactive material quickly drops below World Health Organisation safety levels as soon as it leaves Japanese waters."

Two energetic currents off the Japanese coast - the Kuroshio Current and the Kurushio Extension – are primarily responsible for accelerating the dilution of the radioactive material, taking it well below WHO safety levels within four months.

Eddies and giant whirlpools – some tens of kilometres wide – and other currents in the continue this dilution process and direct the to different areas along the US west coast.

"Although some uncertainties remain around the total amount released and the likely concentrations that would be observed, we have shown unambiguously that the contact with the north-west American coasts will not be identical everywhere," said Dr Vincent Rossi.

"Shelf waters north of 45°N will experience higher concentrations during a shorter period, when compared to the Californian coast. This late but prolonged exposure is due to the three-dimensional pathways of the plume. The plume will be forced down deeper into the ocean toward the subtropics before rising up again along the southern Californian shelf."

Interestingly, the great majority of the radioactive material will stay in the North Pacific, with very little crossing south of the Equator in the first decade. Eventually over a number of decades, a measurable but otherwise harmless signature of the radiation will spread into other ocean basins, particularly the Indian and South Pacific oceans.

"Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere will see little if any radioactive material in their coastal waters and certainly not at levels to cause concern," Dr van Sebille said.

"For those interested in tracking the path of the radiation, we have developed a website to help them.

"Using this website, members of the public can click on an area in the ocean and track the movement of the radiation or any other form of pollution on the ocean surface over the next 10 years."

Explore further: Toxic puddles at Fukushima nuclear plant: report

More information: Multi-decadal projections of surface and interior pathways of the Fukushima Cesium-137 radioactive plume. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2013.05.015

Related Stories

Toxic puddles at Fukushima nuclear plant: report

Aug 19, 2013

Puddles with extremely high radiation levels have been found near water storage tanks at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan's atomic regulator and operator said Monday, according to a report.

Radioactive bluefin tuna crossed the Pacific to US

May 28, 2012

Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan's crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away - the first time a huge ...

Worried about a radioactive ocean? A reality check

Apr 06, 2011

(AP) -- This week, workers at the stricken Japanese nuclear plant dumped radioactive water into the ocean to make room for storing even more highly contaminated water on the site. The water dumping came after ...

Recommended for you

Underwater elephants

3 hours ago

In the high-tech world of science, researchers sometimes need to get back to basics. UC Santa Barbara's Douglas McCauley did just that to study the impacts of the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) on cor ...

Malaysia air quality 'unhealthy' as haze obscures skies

9 hours ago

Air quality around Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur and on Borneo island was "unhealthy" on Tuesday, with one town reaching "very unhealthy" levels as haze—mostly from forest fires in Indonesia—obscured skies.

User comments : 12

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2013
I would be more afraid of the next X-class solar flare.
cantdrive85
1.3 / 5 (15) Aug 28, 2013
What do you think caused the earthquake/tsunami in the first place?
http://spaceweath...ear=2011
sirchick
5 / 5 (6) Aug 28, 2013
What do you think caused the earthquake/tsunami in the first place?
http://spaceweath...ear=2011


My high school education can answer that. Tectonic plates colliding...you must of heard of the deep trench off the coast of Japan....they be common around colliding plates.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Aug 29, 2013
High school "education"? That's why you're so completely wrong.
sirchick
5 / 5 (2) Sep 03, 2013
High school "education"? That's why you're so completely wrong.


Are you saying when you went to high school you did not receive education? That explains why you are linking space weather to earth quakes =/

Pointing a link to an event and tying it to another event and "assuming" there is a link is bad news.
That's like assuming, swine flu occurred and spread at same time as an Ipad went on sale and sold out in the same country of origin of swine flu.

Conclusion: I guess the ipad caused swine flu.

My point is, Its just dangerous to link two unrelated things together without any real backing to it. Your link had no mention of earthquakes also....so what was the purpose of your link ?
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) Sep 03, 2013
What is "dangerous" about suggesting there may be a link between solar activity and geologic activity? There was a very fast X-class flare on the 9th, and a different CME impacted the magnetosphere on the 10th. That's a lot of EM energy available for the earth to absorb.

Regardless, this is a pretty neat animation of earthquakes during 2011.
http://www.youtub...T4#t=110
Note the spike in quakes on the 9th-10th, then it really takes off. Notice there is another spike in July that coincides with an earth directed CME. Coincidence? Perhaps. There are many variables though, earth directed or not, position in the current sheet, alignment of planets and moon, alignment of earth's magnetic field, etc...
If the hypothesis of plate tectonics is correct, could a magnetic disturbance jolt something out of whack? Seems plausible. Then again, geologic theory is largely based the nonsensical nebular theory of planet formation so the likelihood of that being correct is nil.
Gmr
2.3 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2013
^Yammer yammer.

Harmless yet not undetectable - and still harmless... Harmless enough that we were alarmed that such a large plume of radioactive water was released. Yet harmless.

I think the proper term would be "mostly harmless."
Sinister1811
2 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2013
I would be more afraid of the next X-class solar flare.


Well, when you start growing an extra arm, then it's time to be worried.
sirchick
not rated yet Sep 08, 2013
What is "dangerous" about suggesting there may be a link between solar activity and geologic activity?


This is science.. "may" is not good enough. It's either facts or nothing.

Its dangerous because we might be wasting time and money on something completely unrelated, mean while we have radiation leaking out of a nuclear power plant. You need much stronger evidence to suggest solar activity is linked to it other than a coincidence of sun activity and a earth quake happening within a close time scale.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) Sep 08, 2013
And yet we are on the search for dark matter which "may" exist. Decades later and BILLIONS of dollars wasted the search continues....

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." Albert Einstein

How can you develop facts without looking?
Gmr
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 08, 2013
But, cantdrive85, you don't show creativity or imagination. You have one favorite stick that you appear to believe can solve all problems, and proceed to beat each new problem with it, applicable or no.

When all you have is Plasma Cosmology, everything looks like a z-pinch.
sirchick
not rated yet Sep 13, 2013
And yet we are on the search for dark matter which "may" exist. Decades later and BILLIONS of dollars wasted the search continues....

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." Albert Einstein

How can you develop facts without looking?


Uh dark matter DOES exist it is effected by gravity.. the question is what is it,..... we even roughly estimate how much of it there is.. you can some what measure it from galaxies. They spin too fast for the mass that we actually can measure.

That is a "fact" not a "maybe/guess work" situation. And yes dark energy also exists as the universe is "observed" to be expanding by an unknown force.

Dark matter/energy are really just place holder names until we can really say what they are. I don't think they would rename it if they do manage to measure their properties at a more detailed level though.