Fish caught off the coast of Oregon have tested positive for radiation and the researchers that discovered this say Fukushima is to blame. An Oregon State University (OSU) research project found that radiation in albacore tuna has been steadily increasing ever since the nuclear disaster back in 2011, with average radiation levels now triple what they were before the consecutive meltdowns.
A team led by graduate research assistant Delvan Neville first began collecting tuna samples back in 2011 and ever since, has been collecting more to make comparisons. Based on what they observed, levels of radioactive cesium in the fish have increased by roughly 300 percent since the project first began, a direct result of radioactive bioaccumulation in the fish over time.
Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the results of the study demonstrate a lingering effect from the Fukushima disaster that the mainstream media has largely downplayed. Though still relatively minute, the radiation levels detected in albacore tuna add to the many other sources of exposure from other foods, as well as from air and seawater.
“You can’t say there is absolutely zero risk because any radiation is assumed to carry at least some small risk,” admitted Neville, who works in the OSU Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics.
Neville insists that the levels detected in the fish are so small that a person receives more exposure from other normal activities like sleeping next to another person, for instance, as humans emit radiation from the natural potassium-40 inside their bodies. But once again, this assumption fails to take into account the effects of concentrated doses of ingested ionizing radiation, which can have profound health effects.
According to the researchers, radiation was detected in all areas of the tuna’s bodies, including in the loins, carcass and guts. Older fish were also determined to have higher levels of the damaging radionuclides than younger fish, suggesting that the older fish may have traveled across the Pacific Ocean and back several times, each time exposing themselves to more radiation.
Still, many of the three-year-old fish tested had no traces of Fukushima radiation at all, which some may see as reassuring. The researchers also pointed out that once albacore tuna reach the age of about five, they stop their trans-Pacific migrations and head south to warmer waters, never to return to the West Coast of the U.S.
“The presence of these radioactive isotopes is actually helping us in an odd way — giving us information that will allow us to estimate how albacore tuna migrate between our West Coast and Japan,” added Neville. “Fukushima provides the only known source for a specific isotope that shows up in the albacore, so it gives us an unexpected fingerprint that allows us to learn more about the migration.”
Radioactive water from Fukushima will be 10 times stronger when it reaches US, say scientists
At the same time, other scientists are worried about the continued drift of radioactive water coming from Fukushima, some of which is expected to impact the West Coast. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the GEOMAR Research Center for Marine Geosciences warned earlier this year that when radioactive currents finally reach our shores, it will not be pretty.
A study published recently in the journal Science China Earth Sciences predicts that “pockets and streams of highly concentrated radiation” will soon hit the West Coast, covering the entire North Pacific and stretching as far south as Baja, California, in Mexico. This same study also anticipates that these elevated radiation levels will persist for at least a decade.
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