In March of 2011, a 9.0 earthquake in the Pacific triggered a tsunami which hit the coast of Japan, nearly demolishing the Fukushima nuclear power plant and resulting in huge amounts of radiation being washed into the ocean. In the three years since the event occurred, not much fall-out has been seen from the nuclear waste. However, many coastal cities and towns are starting to worry that the time is nigh for the radiation to be impacting the Pacific Coast of the United States.
"We've been worried about it and worried about it. We're really concerned about it affecting the fisheries, the wildlife, the tourism, and most importantly our health," stated Zac Adams, owner of Bandon Designs construction company.
If scientific time-tables mean anything, Adams should be worried that the radiation is going to hit the coast soon: “The predicted modeling shows that we should start to see it coming along our coastline at very low levels,” reported Lisa Phipps, executive director of the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership.
That being said, the levels of radiation reaching the western coast are insignificant, according to those studying the issue.
— Brian Hanley (@Quantling) June 27, 2014
In order to assure the people that there is nothing to worry about, Lisa Pipps has partnered with Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Together, and with the help of many others who have donated to the cause, Buesseler has started the project, "How Radioactive is Our Ocean?"
The goal of the project is to raise enough crowd-sourced funding to help pay for water samples from the coast to be tested for evidence of radioactive elements in Buesseler's lab back in Massachusetts. Each test costs anywhere from $550 to $600, but the project believes the cost is more than worthwhile.
"There's a dismissive argument that well, the levels are pretty low, so why bother. The counter to that is it's good to confirm low numbers. You build public confidence. And we can use the data to model ocean currents for the next time," argued Buesseler.
Pipps corroborated Buesseler statement, saying that “When we took this on, it wasn’t to incite any kind of fear in people. It is a data collection effort."
While some oceanside residents may be worried about the level of radiation in the ocean, others simply want to know the facts: “If there’s something out there that’s coming up, I would like to know,” stated fisherman Bart Baldwin.
As long as concerned residents continue to fund Buesseler's campaign, the western coast should have all the information and preparation it needs to handle any radiation threat in the near future.
Image via YouTube