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Scientists rely on crowdsourcing to test for Fukushima radiation in absence of government monitoring

Friday, April 04, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Fukushima, radiation monitoring, crowdsourcing

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(NaturalNews) You've probably seen them floating around the 'net recently -- "crowdsourcing" projects that are raising money to implement new ideas or technologies that otherwise would not have significant enough financial backing through traditional investment channels. Well, now a group of concerned scientists and volunteers has started one to track and measure radiation coming from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, since neither the Japanese nor U.S. governments seem all that concerned about doing this important work themselves.

Fox News reports that a network of crowdsourced volunteers is right now collecting water samples from beaches up and down the West Coast to measure radiation levels in lieu of official government testing on behalf of public health. Federal regulators remain insistent that Fukushima radiation is not a public health threat, and both California and Washington have individually decided not to perform their own testing. Only Oregon, it turns out, is collecting any water samples at all, and even these are being tested only at higher levels that more closely align with federal thresholds.

"We know there's contaminated water coming out of there, even today," says Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hold Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, a major supporter of the project. "What we don't really know is how fast and how much is being transported across the Pacific. Yes, the models tell us it will be safe. Yes, the levels we expect off the coast of the U.S. and Canada are expected to be low. But we need measurements, especially now as the plume begins to arrive along the West Coast."

Grassroots effort accomplishing what governments have failed to address

The hope is that water samples will be collected up and down the West Coast every few months over the course of the next several years, which will give scientists some data to work with in measuring the damage. It is not enough, say supporters of the project, for national governments to simply decree that radiation levels are safe without actually taking samples and analyzing them. So the people have no other choice but to do it themselves.

According to reports, the project has already raised a total of $29,945 collected from 225 donors, which is enough to establish 30 water sampling sites in both California and Washington, as well is in Alaska and British Columbia. One of the donors, a mother from Renton, Washington, feels so strongly about the merits of the project that she forked over $500 in support of it, receiving in return a bucket, funnel, clipboard, UPS shipping label, instructions and a red plastic container with which to collect a water sample for analysis.

"I got lots of strange looks at the beach and the UPS Store, because it's labeled 'Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity,' and it's a big red bin," stated Sara Gamble to Fox News. "But it's funny; nobody would ask me anything out on the beach. I was like, 'Aren't you curious? Don't you want to ask?'"

Your support needed to analyze Fukushima water samples

Those interested in supporting the project can still do so by visiting OurRadioactiveOcean.com, which explains in thorough detail how the water samples are being collected and tested. Members of the public can also propose new locations for testing, as well as fund existing testing sites:

"Contributions from scientists and concerned citizens around the world have left us with samples that we do not have funding to analyze," explains the page.

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