Fukushima Radioactive Plume to Reach US by Early 2014

By: | September 12th, 2013

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan before and after the accident (Image courtesy http://news.discovery.com/)

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan before and after the accident (Image courtesy http://news.discovery.com/)

A new study from the University of New South Wales has revealed the radioactive ocean plume released by the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan will reach the shores of the U.S. sometime in 2014.

The atmospheric radiation began reaching the US west coast within days of the deadly 2011 tsunami which led to multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. But the Fukushima’s radioactive water release will take longer to reach the same shoreline, journeying across the Pacific.

World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the radioactive particles on their way to the U.S. will have a minimal effect on human health as the concentration of radioactive material in U.S. waters will fall below WHO’s safety levels.

The Kuroshio Current and the Kurushio Extension, two energetic ocean currents off the eastern coast of Japan are primarily responsible for accelerating the dilution of the radioactive material, taking the concentration levels well below WHO safety levels within four months of the Fukushima incident.

Although there is some debate around the total amount of radioactive water released and its concentration levels, the fact of the matter is the greater part of the radioactive material will stay in the North Pacific. It would take this radiation decades before it begins to spread into other ocean basins – Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

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