(NaturalNews) Canadian scientists and authorities, as well as local residents, are alarmed at the discovery of radioactive metal in the Fraser Valley that came from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, as they voiced concerns recently about the long-term impact of radiation along British Columbia's west coast.
According to The Vancouver Sun, an examination of soil taken from Kilby Provincial Park, near Agassiz, has -- for the first time -- turned up cesium-134, which is further evidence that radioactivity from the crippled Fukushima plant is reaching the North American west coast, both by air and by sea, local experts said.
"That was a surprise," Juan Jose Alava, an adjunct professor in the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University (SFU), told the Sun. "It means there are still emissions... and trans-Pacific air pollution. It's a concern to us. This is an international issue."
Reactors at the Fukushima plant were badly damaged by a major tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami was caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Reports have said that between 16,000 and 19,000 people were killed.
Contamination is low - for now
Cesium-134 has a half-life of about two years. That means its radioactivity level is reduced by half during that period of time. Still, its presence on Canada's west coast is disturbing.
A more dangerous radioactive compound, cesium-137, is a bigger danger to humans and plant life. It has a half-life of 30 years, and it can accumulate in the food chain.
As reported by the Sun:
Researchers developed a model based on the diet of fish-eating killer whales along with the levels of Cesium 137 detected and predicted (less than 0.5 becquerels per cubic metre, a measurement of radioactivity) by other researchers in the Pacific waters offshore of Vancouver Island.
The models suggests that in 30 years, Cesium 137 levels in the whales will exceed the Canadian guideline of 1,000 becquerels per kilogram for consumption of seafood by humans -- 10 times the Japanese guideline.
"It's a reference, the only benchmark we have to compare against," Alava said, adding that government cutbacks have meant that academics, non-governmental organizations and even private citizens have had to do more of the aquatic testing for radioactivity.
"The Canadian government is the one that should be doing something, should be taking action to keep monitoring to see how these contaminants are behaving, what are the levels, and what is next," Avala said.
In fact, it was a Canadian citizen, Aki Sano, who provided SFU with the soil sample from Kilby Park. Sano turned it over on Nov. 16.
Though the soil tested positive for cesium-134, the levels are believed to be low, though the exact amount is unknown. Soil sampling from Burnaby Mountain, closer to Vancouver, is planned next.
Alava noted that the Fukushima plant continues to leak radiation, meaning that the problem is persisting. "There's going to be a long-term exposure to organisms building up in the marine environment," he said.
Natural News reported in August that, according to Japan's nuclear watchdog, the crippled plant was leaking 300 million gallons of contaminated water a day into the nearby sea (see that report here: http://www.naturalnews.com).
True accountability of the damage is still forthcoming
And while levels measured along the North American west coast continue to be low, we are told, experts like Avala say the region should be continually monitored nonetheless, with an eye toward identifying long-term implications.
"So far the levels are safe," Alava said. "We shouldn't be worried now, but we need to keep monitoring in the long term to see whether these levels are building up in the food web."
Debris from Fukushima that no doubt also contains some level of radiation is also headed toward the U.S. West Coast, and California in particular.
Officials in the United States have also said that any radiation fallout measured from Fukushima thus far has been minimal, but given the gravity of the meltdown -- four of the plant's six reactors were damaged, one exploded, and at least two are leaking contaminated water into the ocean -- it is not unreasonable to assume the worst (http://www.naturalnews.com).