The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami may have struck three years ago, but radioactive water from Japan's beleaguered Fukushima nuclear power plant is now being detected near Canada's West Coast. Scientists will be monitoring North American shores for the next two months, but projections point to good news.
Minute traces of radionuclides were recently detected off the coast of British Columbia. The contaminated water has yet to reach Washington, California, or Hawaii. According to researchers who met yesterday at the annual American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, radiation levels will increase as contaminants slowly swell eastwards.
As noted by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), radioactive contaminants from Fukushima are being pushed across the Pacific Ocean by currents, the strongest of which is the Kuroshio, and spread along the West Coast of North America by complex coastal processes. Their models correctly predicted that radionuclides from Fukushima would begin to arrive on the West Coast in early 2014. At first, these contaminated waters will appear in the north (Alaska and British Columbia) and then move further south in coming years before appearing in Hawaii in small amounts.
WHOI is currently monitoring water in 16 locations: