Effects of Radiation from Fukushima Daiichi on the U.S. Marine Environment [April 5, 2011]   [open pdf - 442KB]

"The massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, caused extensive damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power installation in northeastern Japan, resulting in the release of radiation. Concerns have arisen about the potential effects of this released radiation on U.S. marine environment and resources. Both ocean currents and atmospheric winds have the potential to transport radiation over and into marine waters under U.S. jurisdiction. It is unknown whether marine organisms that take up radiation in Japanese waters may subsequently migrate to where they may be harvested by U.S. commercial fishermen. High levels of radioactive iodine-131 (with a half-life of about 8 days), cesium-137 (with a halflife of about 30 years), and cesium-134 (with a half-life of about 2 years) have been measured in seawater adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi site. EPA rainfall monitors in California, Idaho, and Minnesota have detected trace amounts of radioactive iodine, cesium, and tellurium consistent with the Japanese nuclear incident, with current concentrations below any level of concern. It is uncertain how precipitation of radioactive elements from the atmosphere may affect radiation levels in the marine environment."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41751
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