Fish and plankton collected from the Pacific Ocean near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contain elevated levels of radioactive materials, but below levels that pose a threat to public health, researchers reported Tuesday.
Levels of the long-lived nuclear waste cesium-137 were 1,000 times higher in seawater samples taken three months after the accident than they were before the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, said Nicholas Fisher, a marine science professor at New York's Stony Brook University. Zooplankton, which get carried by currents, collected in those waters had levels of cesium-137 and the shorter-lived cesium-134 that were on average 40 times higher than the surrounding water, he said. They also had much higher levels of a radioactive form of silver produced by nuclear reactions.
But the readings amounted to a fraction of the amount of radioactivity sea life is exposed to from naturally occurring potassium in seawater, Fisher said.
"The total radiation in the marine organisms that we collected from Fukushima is still less than the natural radiation background that the animals already had, and quite a bit less," he said. "It's about 20%."
The findings were among several reports on the Fukushima Daiichi accident that were presented at an ocean science conference in Salt Lake City held this week.FULL STORY