Local radioactivity test sought

12/19/2013

Bing Gong, co-host of KWMR’s Post-Carbon Radio, is collecting donations to monitor coastal waters for radioactivity following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, which led to meltdowns of the core reactors. Toxic water has continued to seep into the groundwater and flow into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists say ocean currents will gradually dilute most of the radioactive material, but within three years radioactivity will reach the West Coast with concentrations of radioactive material peaking after five years, according to a recent study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. They predict the amount of radiation will be thousands of times lower than the amount released directly after the accident. The Environmental Protection Agency has continued to monitor radioactivity in drinking water, air and milk in the wake of the accident, but the agency does not test ocean water. The Food and Drug Administration has studied bluefin tuna caught offshore and found them safe for consumption, and the California Coastal Commission is planning to release a study by next spring. “But the truth is that we don’t really know for sure without scientific monitoring along the West Coast,” Mr. Gong said. Local activists want detailed information about how radioactive our local beaches are and whether that radioactivity could be potentially harmful if it moves up the food chain and accumulates. If Mr. Gong raises $550—a tax-deductible contribution, he adds—a sampling kit and a five-gallon bucket of ocean water will be shipped to scientist Ken Buesseler at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., for analysis. (Mr. Gong said there are no similar sites for analysis on the West Coast.) Tom Baty, a fisherman in Inverness, has volunteered to collect the samples. The findings will be posted online by January on an interactive map with results from other sites up and down the coast. Contributions can be sent to P.O. Box 478, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956. Call (415) 776.1439 for more information.