I have stepped foot on the CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier three times in the past few weeks. First, to set up the lab equipment with Jay. Second to give my mom and stepdad a tour of where I will be working and living for the next three weeks. Last, to bring my personal belongings to my room. It is a lot more spacious than I was expecting. I found out I will only have a roommate for about half of the time (I thought I would be sharing a room the whole time), and it has a little porthole (I had pictured I would be getting one of the interior, lightless rooms)! So overall, I’m already pleasantly surprised by the experience.
My project involves collecting seawater from what is called the loop sampler. This water runs through the ship and gives us an accurate representation of the ocean conditions. The seawater is run through a resin which binds to the radiocesium in the water that is left over from the meltdowns of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants in 2011. Once all of the cesium is bound to the resin, I will send the resin to Dr. John Smith‘s lab at DFO’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography where they use gamma spectroscopy to determine how much cesium is at each sample location. These data will become part of the timeseries from the previous undergrads who have taken the same NE Pacific/Arctic cruise to see how the amounts of cesium have changed through time.
Extended testing of select 2016 salmon samples has identified the Fukushima-fingerprint isotope in one sample re-measured earlier this year. The maximum level of contamination observed in a sample (134Cs: 0.07 Bq kg-1, 137Cs: 0.51 Bq kg-1) is over 1,700 times lower than the Health Canada Action Level (1,000 Bq kg-1) and is not known to be a health risk for either humans or the environment.
This week InFORM lost a friend, a colleague, and a leader in his field, Dr. Jack Cornett. Jack was an integral member of the InFORM team since he was involved in the analyses of both our citizen science and biological sampling efforts and was using new mass spectrometry techniques to measure trace concentrations of Fukushima derived isotopes in seawater and freshwater. This work was conducted by his extensive lab group, but as anyone who knew Jack knows, he was personally involved and invested in all aspects of the lab operations on a near daily basis. Continue reading The InFORM Team Remembers Dr. Jack Cornett