Pacific

Fukushima radiation no hazard to West Coast fish or beaches

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On guard at Free Zuma. LA Observed photo.

With anyone who uses Facebook exposed to bogus but viral hype about supposed high radiation levels, public officials and scientists have put out the word that for them the evidence is in. "There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima," the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. Radioactive cesium in bluefish tuna that cross the Pacific is "measurable but it's extremely low" — and has been falling since 2011, says Nicholas Fisher, a professor of marine science at Stony Brook University.

"There are consequences of this disaster, but the problem is really only in Japan," said Kim Martini, an oceanographer at the University of Washington, in the L.A. Times. Things are still dicey to be sure at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power — and likely to get worse before they get better. But that's a separate question from whether Pacific fish are being seriously contaminated, and the threat of impact here is yet another separate issue.

You might remember that Heal the Bay put out the same word back in September.


In terms of human health, the latest academic findings suggest that swimmers off the West Coast of North America face no radiation risks by entering the water. Radioactive concentrations harmful to humans quickly drop below World Health Organizations safety levels as soon as they leave Japanese waters, according to Dr. Erik Van Sebille, a physical oceanographer at the University of New South Wales. Open ocean currents, due to their strength and size, will dilute radioactive concentrations within four months of their release from Japan....

The bottom line, according to researchers: It is currently safe to swim along our local beaches. Experts also believe that beachgoers will not need to worry about radioactive contamination from the disaster in the future, due to dispersion currents in the open ocean.

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We suggest that if you are worried about eating fish with elevated radioactivity, you should avoid fish coming from Japan. Fish caught off our local coastal waters as well as our northern and southern borders are safe to eat. Open ocean currents disperse radiation throughout the Pacific and will not impact local, non-migratory fish stocks.

Heal the Bay also says that its extensive beach monitoring and clean-up activities have yet to gather any debris from Japan. "Yes, trash on the beach is safe, according to federal officials."

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