(Maps credits to Daniel Feher – https://www.freeworldmaps.net/island/stlawrenceisland/)
Water samples detect low levels of Fukushima-related contamination
March 28, 2019
… The sampling, conducted by residents of St. Lawrence Island, documents the Fukushima plume’s northern edge arriving in the Bering Sea for the first time, and shows levels of cesium-137 higher than they were before the 2011 nuclear power plant accident in Japan, Alaska Sea Grant agent Gay Sheffield said…
…Ungott has been collecting seawater samples for several years off the coast of Gambell. He sends them to Sheffield in Nome who then ships them to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for analysis. During 2014, 2015 and 2017, the lab found very low levels of cesium-137, similar to those prior to the Fukushima nuclear accident. No testing was done in 2016 due to lack of funding.
The 2018 results, however, showed the presence of cesium-137 at levels slightly higher than before accident…
…The level of cesium-137 measured in the 2018 seawater sample was found to be 2.4 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3). That’s above pre-accident levels, but still thousands of times lower than what the EPA considers unsafe for drinking.
Historically, cesium-137 levels in the Pacific Ocean were below 2.0 Bq/m3. The EPA considers drinking water containing levels of cesium-137 up to 7,400 Bq/m3 to be safe for human consumption….
… While the Bering Sea test results are not indicating a health concern, Ungott said he hopes more testing will be carried out.
“We need to know if our marine mammals that we hunt are catching some of this stuff or not,” he said.
Fukushima contaminants found as far north as Alaska’s Bering Strait
March 28, 2019
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has drifted as far north as waters off a remote Alaska island in the Bering Strait, scientists said on Wednesday.
Analysis of seawater collected last year near St. Lawrence Island revealed a slight elevation in levels of radioactive cesium-137 attributable to the Fukushima disaster, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program said.
“This is the northern edge of the plume,” said Gay Sheffield, a Sea Grant marine advisory agent based in the Bering Sea town of Nome, Alaska…
The results reported on Wednesday came from a long-term but small-scale testing program.
Water was sampled for several years by Eddie Ungott, a resident of Gambell village on the northwestern tip of St. Lawrence Island. The island, though part of the state of Alaska, is physically closer to Russia than to the Alaska mainland, and residents are mostly Siberian Yupik with relatives in Russia.
Fukushima-linked radionuclides have been found as far away as Pacific waters off the U.S. West Coast, British Columbia and in the Gulf of Alaska.
Until the most recent St. Lawrence Island sample was tested by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the only other known sign of Fukushima radiation in the Bering Sea was detected in 2014 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA scientists found trace amounts of Fukushima-linked radionuclides in muscle tissue of fur seals on Alaska’s St. Paul Island in the southern Bering Sea. There was no testing of the water there, Sheffield said.
The people of St. Lawrence Island, who live well to the north of St. Paul Island, had expected Fukushima radionuclides to arrive eventually, she said.
“They fully anticipated getting it. They didn’t know when,” she said. “The way the currents work does bring the water up from the south.”