Fukushima – Caesium reaches the Arctic Ocean | Polarjournal
The Fukushima nuclear disaster began with the earthquake at 2:47 p.m. on March 11, 2011, and occurred simultaneously in four of six reactor units. Meltdowns occurred in units 1 to 3. Large amounts of radioactive material, about 10 to 20 percent of the amount of radioactive emissions from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, were released and contaminated air, soil, water and food in the surrounding land and sea areas. About 100,000 to 150,000 inhabitants had to leave the area temporarily or permanently.

The latest research by scientists at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology JAMSTEC has revealed that radioactive materials leaked in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident have already spread to the Arctic Ocean.

Dr. Yuichiro Kumamoto, senior researcher of the “Ocean Research and Development Organization” summarized the research results a few days ago, according to which the radioactive material caesium-134 from the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011 had reached the Arctic Ocean about eight years after the incident.

After eight years, caesium-134 and caesium-137 reached the Arctic Ocean. (Graphic: Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal)

Kumamoto speculates that the amount discovered is small but spreads toward the center of the Arctic Ocean. It is also estimated that caesium-137 has also arrived.

Earlier this November, visiting professor Michio Aoyama of the University of Tsukuba announced similar research findings. After caesium-137 had reached the west coast of the United States, it was found that some of it was transported northward and was also returned to Japan by ocean currents from the northeastern region.

According to Michio Aoyama, in 2017, caesium-137 was detected for the first time in the Bering Sea, in the northernmost part of the Pacific Ocean and the Chukchi Sea, the Arctic Ocean’s adjacent sea

The flora and fauna around the Arctic Ocean are unlikely to be affected because of the minimal amounts of caesium, as is the case with the walruses in the Chukchi Sea. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

After the accident, Dr. Kumamoto analyzed seawater in the North Pacific Ocean and other areas. Seawater collected north of the Alaska Peninsula on October 19, 2021, had 0.07 becquerels per cubic meter of caesium-134 (half-life of about 2 years).

Although the amounts of caesium measured in the Arctic Ocean were very small and barely detectable, the proper communication of various information was necessary to monitor the spread status and to avoid rumors, Dr. Kumamoto said.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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