Inletkeeper testing shows no Fukushima radiation in Cook Inlet

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Tuesday, November 11, 2014 10:54pm
  • News

A test on Cook Inlet waters turned up no evidence of radiation emissions from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster having made its way into the area.

A crowdsourced funding effort through Cook Inletkeeper raised enough money to fund one test — though the organization is still soliciting donations for further testing at its crowdrise.com funding page — and the organization on Monday announced the results of its test on water sampled in September, north of Yukon Island in Kachemak Bay.

Cook Inletkeeper Executive Director Bob Shavelson said during a June interview that the Fukushima nuclear disaster had stirred up fear and misinformation and the organization had received a lot of calls from Alaskans concerned about Cook Inlet fisheries.

The Japanese reactor was disabled after a major earthquake in 2011, and high radioactive releases were measured during the week following the earthquake, according to the World Nuclear Association. However, the Federal Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for monitoring the nation’s food supply, has yet to find any evidence of radioactive contamination in U.S. food supplies, according to a March update on the organization’s website. In addition, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health and Social Services announced in 2014 that the two organizations’ tests of Alaska’s seafood have shown the product to be safe to consume.

The Cook Inlet water sample was analyzed at the Woods Hole Center for Marine and Environmental Radiation and, according to an Inletkeeper media release, the sample contained very little evidence of radioactive material in the water. What was detected is normal background radiation levels for the Pacific Ocean and is traceable to nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s, according to the release.

On Monday, the Center for Marine and Environmental Radiation announced that it had detected small amounts of radiation from Fukushima about 100 miles west of Eureka, California.

However, the Fukushima-derived radiation levels are below levels expected to present a risk to human or marine life, according to the organization’s announcement and the levels were more than 1,000 times lower than the acceptable limits to drinking water set by the U.S. EPA.

The institute has been conducting sampling throughout the West Coast of the United States and in the Pacific Ocean, the results of which can be found at ourradioactiveocean.org.

If additional funding comes through, Inletkeeper intends to sample again in 2015, according to its release.

Shavelson said the additional testing had more to do with timing and monitoring the water each successive year, than fears that waters situated in other portions of the Cook Inlet could be contaminated.

“I think it’s just prudent to take another look at it,” he said.

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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