(NaturalNews) As the fallout - no pun intended - from Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear reactors at its Fukushima complex continues to worsen, scientists are now concerned about another related phenomenon that appears to be invading the U.S. West Coast - buckyballs.
What, exactly, are those? According to a recent University of California - Davis study, in this case the term refers to uranium-filled nanospheres which were "created from the millions of tons of fresh and salt water used to try to cool down the three molten cores of the stricken reactors," said Michael Collins, of EnviroReporter.com - not the small, magnetic balls that cling to each other.
The tiny, stout buckyballs - which resemble soccer balls - are said to have been formed when water hit the super-heated, primarily uranium-oxide, fuel in the damaged reactors at Fukushima. "In this goo buckyballs are formed, loaded with uranium and able to move quickly through water without disintegrating," said the report.
Worse, radiation readings in L.A. and Santa Monica during a 42-day period between December 2011 and January 2012, "strongly suggest that radiation is increasing in the region including along the coast in Ventura County," Collins said, adding that readings both he and the Environmental Protection Agency took appeared to indicate the unnatural presence of radiation.
"Southern California is still getting hit by Fukushima radiation at alarmingly high levels that will inevitably increase as the main bulk of polluted Pacific Ocean water reaches North America over the next two years," he asserted.
Radiation believed to be five times normal levels along parts of West Coast
Collins said he began monitoring for increased levels of radiation within four days after a devastating earthquake-caused tsunami struck the Fukushima complex, heavily damaging at least three of the site's nuclear reactors. Today, he says, radiation levels at both the Los Angeles and Santa Monica sites are about 5.3 times the norm. The Santa Monica site transmits radiation readings to the L.A. Basin area 24/7, Collins said.
The author noted that more than 1,500 radiation tests have been conducted in the area since the disaster, including samples taken in a commercial airliner.
"[E]ven accounting for higher radiation at higher altitudes, readings were more than five times normal according to the manufacturer of our Inspector Alert nuclear radiation monitor," Collins wrote.
The U.C. - Davis study said the radioactive buckyballs were hearty and potentially able to "transport uranium over long distances," being stable and consistent in the absence of peroxide.
While experts in the mainstream media debate whether any toxic levels of radiation are already bombarding the U.S. West Coast or if it is on its way, what is known is that radiation, in some forms, has already made it to American waters.
"I wouldn't tell anyone what's safe to eat or what's not safe to eat," Daniel Madigan of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, told Reuters. "It's become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they'd like to avoid it. But compared to what's there naturally ... and what's established as safety limits, it's not a large amount at all."
Madigan said researchers found higher levels of two radioactive isotopes of the cesium element, 137 - which was present in the eastern Pacific before the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi - and 134, which is caused only by manmade activities and wasn't present before the tsunami smashed into the plant.
Better off having radioactivity in the ocean?
Ken Buesseler, a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, wrote on CNN.com that the fact most of Fukushima's radioactive fallout landed in the ocean, rather than on land, was actually a good thing.
"In many ways we were fortunate that impacts were largely confined to the ocean. Certainly, the Japanese people continue to feel devastating effects of so large a release within their country, and many people may never be able to return to their homes. But in general the winds during the height of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were blowing offshore," he said.
"As a result, more than three-quarters of the radioactivity fell on the ocean. This is important, as any that lands on soil remains in place, resulting in the potential for greater human exposure and increased chances of contamination to food supplies and property," Buesseler continued.
Nevertheless, some radioactive measurements show disturbing trends, he said, such as levels "of radioactivity found in fish are not decreasing and there appear to be hot spots on the seafloor that are not well mapped."