Plumes of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power planthave been detected off the coast of Canada.
There have long been concerns that water laced with the radioactive materials cesium-137 and cesium-134 from the plant would make the 5,000 mile trip across the Pacific Ocean. Radiation in the atmosphere reached the West Coast within days of the Fukushima incident, and though it has taken much longer for it to make its way here by sea, a study out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that it has arrived.
The study found that the Fukushima radiationfirst reached a location 1,500 kilometers west of British Columbia in 2012. By 2014, the levels of celsium-137 had spread to the Canadian continental shelf. The amount is projected to double on North American shores by 2016 before falling back to below today's levels by 2021.
Fortunately, between the long journey across the sea and ocean currents that have swirled and stirred the radioactive cesium along the way, the levels are not dangerously high.
"Cesium behaves like dye in water and gets diluted along the way," said Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution whose separate study last month found similar levels of radiation from Fukushima off the California coast. "By the time it gets across, it's pretty well mixed and much lower. We could never have levels as high as what was found off Japan."