Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan has reached North American shores, but _ despite a number of reports shared on social media _ scientists say the levels of radiation are so low that it poses no risk to public health

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2011, file photo, the Unit 4 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station is seen through a bus window in Okuma, Japan. Research scientist John Smith, who works for Canada’s fisheries and oceans department, told The Associated Press on March 17, 2017, that “crazy low levels” of cesium from Fukushima found in a Canadian salmon are no cause for alarm. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File)

By PATRICK MAIRS - Associated Press
Monday, March 20th 2017, 18:31 pm EDT

Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan has reached North American shores, but — despite a number of reports shared on social media— scientists say the levels of radiation are so low that it poses no risk to public health.

Late last year, researchers announced that Cesium-134 was discovered in waters off the coast of Oregon and in one sockeye salmon in a British Columbia lake. Cesium-134 is considered the fingerprint radiation of the Fukushima disaster, because its short half-life means it could only come from the plant that suffered meltdowns following the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

The news reports have been used as the basis for viral stories about the radiation. One story from alternativemediasyndicate.com carried the headline: "Fukushima Radiation: Your Days of Eating Pacific Ocean Fish Are Over, Or Worse." Another story from organicandhealthy.org labeled the discovery of the salmon as "bad news for everyone" and described the U.S. West Coast as "contaminated."

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Massachusetts' Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has traveled to Japan numerous times since 2011 to study the Fukushima disaster's effect on seawater. He also leads a sampling project to study the radiation as it makes its way across the Pacific Ocean to North America.

It's fair to be concerned about radiation, he said, but the levels detected are far too small to make anyone sick: They are 1,000 times less than what a person would be exposed to during a routine dental x-ray.

"It's even less than things like CT scans or flying in a plane or even living at high altitude. Personally I'm not concerned about those levels," he said.

Research scientist John Smith, who works for Canada's fisheries and oceans department, said the "crazy low levels" of cesium found in the salmon were suspected all along.

"It's absolutely no surprise there would be a little bit of Fukushima cesium in this fish and it's really at a level we would have expected it to be," he said.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a 2015 report on the impact of seaborne Fukushima radiation on the U.S. that evidence showed the levels "fall well short of posing any U.S. health or environmental risk." In January, state officials in Alaska announced that tests of seafood in the state's waters found no detectable amounts of radiation from the plant.

"This has been going on since the beginning of the Fukushima accident," adds Smith of some reports that have surfaced online since the disaster. "All this kind of fake news and scary news."

___

This story is part of an ongoing Associated Press effort to fact-check claims in suspected false news stories.

___

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Log In or Register now to earn tokens for enjoying articles!
DAILY BONUS GAMES
$5K  Bonus Games 
  • 1 Search
  • 2 Enjoy
    Content
  • 3 Enjoy
    Content
  • 4 Enjoy
    Content
  • 5 Enjoy
    Content
x
Make sure you're logged in, complete each step and you'll unlock your shot at a fortune!
  • Search Now!1

    Step 1: Search the web to get info you need and go for a PCH SUPERPRIZE!

  • See what's new!2 3 4 5

    Steps 2-5: Get the news, entertainment, horoscopes, lottery results & more! CLAIM TOKENS!

  • Go for $5,000.00 instantly!

    Completing steps 1-5 automatically unlocks your shot at the BIG $5,000.00 INSTANT WIN BONUS GAMES.