Pacific Ocean | Ecotrope

Radiation from Japan found in B.C. rain, seaweed

Ecotrope | March 29, 2011 2:13 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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Two seaweed samples taken March 17 and 24 from North Vancouver.

Two seaweed samples taken March 17 and 24 from North Vancouver.

The Vancouver Sun reports radiation has been detected in rainwater and seaweed in Vancouver, B.C., at levels that do not pose a threat to humans.

The news comes along with reports of highly contaminated water leaking out of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, into surrounding soil and threatening to wash out into the ocean.

Tests in B.C. found iodine-131 in samples taken on March 19, 20 and 25, Simon Fraser University reported in a news release.

From the Vancouver Sun:

“SFU nuclear scientist Kris Starosta is confident the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is responsible for the recent discovery, but he said there is no immediate danger to the public.

‘As of now, the levels we’re seeing are not harmful to humans. We’re basing this on Japanese studies following the Chernobyl incident in 1986 where levels of iodine-131 were four times higher than what we’ve detected in our rainwater so far,’ Starosta said. ‘Studies of nuclear incidents and exposures are used to define radiation levels at which the increase in cancer risk is statistically significant. When compared to the information we have today, we have not reached levels of elevated risk.’

The rainwater was collected at SFU’s Burnaby campus and in downtown Vancouver, while seaweed samples were collected in North Vancouver near the SeaBus terminal.

“The only possible source of iodine-131 in the atmosphere is a release from a nuclear fission,” Starosta said. “Iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, thus we conclude the only possible release which could happen is from the Fukushima incident.”

The radiation found in B.C. was carried by the jet stream, and is now falling over the West Coast with rain, which is mixing with sea water and accumulating in seaweed, SFU said in a news release.”

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