Two IAEA experts examine recovery work on top of Unit 4 of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station two years after the disaster as part of a mission to review Japan’s plans to decommission the facility. (Greg Webb/IAEA)

No adverse effects from 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on B.C. coast: researchers

It’s been seven years since the Japanese nuclear disaster

Seven years after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan released radioactive elements into the environment, researchers say those elements pose minimal risk to human or salmon health along British Columbia’s coast.

A team of researchers at Simon Fraser University’s nuclear science lab collected soil and salmon samples from the Quesnel and Harrison rivers and used a high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy to search for signs of radioactive isotopes.

The isotopes — Cesium 134 and 137 — are fission fragments that do not exist in nature and, therefore, can be directly attributed to nuclear reactions.

Lead chemist Krzysztof Starosta says that while they found evidence of the isotopes in both soil and salmon, the levels measured were very low. The team believes some of the lingering isotopes date back to 1960s nuclear weapons testing and the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.

“The levels found in both the salmon and soil samples remained below Canada’s safety guidelines, posing minimal risk to B.C.’s salmon and human populations,” Starosta said in a release.

He said it has been a relief to know the effects on the region have been so small, even if that was expected given Western Canada’s distance from Japan.

“Proximity to a nuclear disaster is critical, but wind and weather patterns that carry airborne radioisotopes should also be of concerns. Wherever these radioisotopes land, they will eventually decay and release some degree of radiation,” he said.

The team’s findings were published in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry.

The Fukushima disaster occurred March 11, 2011, when a tsunami knocked out power at the seaside Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, causing partial meltdowns in three reactors.

Japan marked the anniversary Sunday with an official ceremony in Tokyo. More than 18,000 people died in the tsunami and 70,000 are still displaced from their homes.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Top 5 places to take your dog in Kelowna

Here are our top five places to take your furry friend

COSAR makes Kelowna Law Day debut

The search and rescue team was on scene as Girl Guides were arrested left and right

Kelowna woman runs to beat hunger

Teri Kanner is collecting donations for the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank

Battle of the concert bands in Lake Country

The annual Concert Band competition is held at Creekside Theatre April 24 to 26

Snoozed through the news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, the Capital News will feature popular stories from the week

VIDEO: Moose found licking salt off B.C. man’s pickup truck

Tab Baker was in his garage in Prince George when the small moose gave his truck a clean

Kamloops RCMP respond to report of dead body floating in Thompson River

Body has not been located, searches to continue as river conditions improve

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

VIDEO: 33 Oliver-area homes evacuated due to flooding

Flooding in the Sportsman Bowl area has swelled drastically over course of one week

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Most Read