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Radiation from Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Could Impact U.S. 40 More Years

Oct 29, 2013

Nearly three years have passed since the one-two punch of an earthquake and tsunami destroyed part of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactor on Japan’s coast – but the impact of this disaster is still rippling along the west coast of the United States, and this could be the case for decades.

Telltale signs of radiation from the failed nuclear reactor continue to affect wildlife, as well as the U.S. and global food chains, according to a recently filed report. Experts believe this could continue for 40 more years.

Nuclear radiation-tracking stations along the west coast of the U.S. have consistently registered elevated radiation levels since the disaster that killed thousands of people in Japan. This is likely the result of the 300 tons of radioactive waste that the nuclear reactor flushes into the Pacific Ocean on a daily basis.

Directly impacted is the wildlife along North America’s western shoreline, according to the report. In Alaska, polar bears, seals and walruses suffer from open sores and loss of fur. In fact, 33 polar bears near Barrow, Alaska, were recently diagnosed as having alopecia – the partial or complete absence of hair where it normally grows – due to exposure to radioactive waste. In California, a rash of sea lion deaths has also been reported.

Fish from the Pacific may be highly toxic. Sockeye salmon populations are now at reported record lows since the Fukushima disaster. Fish on Canada's western coast are also suffering health problems, including bleeding from the eyes and gills.

Radiation-tainted debris from the Fukushima reactor continues to wash ashore on the California coastline and along the west coast, according to the report. Radioactivity can still be measured in the water, too. Recent testing from Hawaii to the California coast revealed toxic levels of cesium-137 in the plankton in the water there.

Cesium-137 was also found in most of the fish being sold from Japan to Canada. Levels of cesium-137 were found in more than three-quarters of the fish tested, including mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, eel, cod, anchovies, monkfish, seaweed, shark, and carp. The report also noted that the BBC recently reported its finding that radiation levels emanating from the nuclear reactor in Japan are 18 times higher than originally reported.

According to our previous reports, Japanese officials were accused of under-reporting the number or degree of adverse events caused by the release of radiation from the Fukushima reactor; they also downplayed the levels of radiation that the reactor was emitting.

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