By Bethany Lindsay
Published 23 Feb 2016
Nearly five years after a massive earthquake resulted in the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, researchers in B.C. have found no detectable levels of contamination in fish along the West Coast.
Contamination in fish had been expected to increase, as levels for radioisotopes cesium-134 and 137 are getting higher in offshore sea water, according to Jay Cullen, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Victoria. But models showing how ocean circulation will carry that contamination suggest there is little reason for concern in B.C. “While we expect the contamination in fish to increase … we don’t expect those levels to approach levels that will be a danger to human health,” Cullen said.
Those projected contamination levels won’t be harmful to the fish, either, he added.
Fukushima radioactivity was first detected 1,500 kilometres west of B.C. in June 2012, just over a year after a tsunami flooded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Since then, people living along the Pacific coast of North America have raised concerns about the health and environmental impacts of possible contamination.
In the latest study, measurements were taken in 156 sockeye salmon and steelhead trout from locations up and down the coast last summer. They were tested for cesium-134, which is considered to be a unique indicator of radiation from the 2011 meltdown, as well as cesium-137, which lingers in the environment longer and can also be linked to nuclear weapons testing from last century. The data is available online at fukushimainform.ca.