Fukushima Disaster – Over 27.1 Peta-Becquerels of Cs-137 in Pacific Ocean Largest Ocean Contamination Ever

A French study released on Thursday said that the amount of nuclear material called caesium 137 leaked by Japanese plant, Fukushima, has proven to be the world’s worst nuclear sea contamination event ever, AFP discloses.

The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) reported that from March 21st to mid-July, 27.1 peta becquerels (a unit used to measure radioactivity) of caesium 137 had entered into the ocean. One “peta” becquerel is equivalent to a million billion becquerels, or 10^15.

The IRSN stated in a press release that this is the biggest single outflow of man-made radioactive materials introduced to the marine environment ever seen or recorded. It will take 30 years for the caesium to lose ½ of its radioactivity, as it is a slow decaying element.  IRSN also found large quantities of iodine 131, though it does not pose any threat due its very low 8-day half-life.

The caesium, however, is a major concern to environmentalists. The problem with this hypothesis is that scientists have simply not seen such a large quantity of caesium introduced to the ocean before, and it can’t be fully known the long-term effects on the marine ecosystem. The group said that deep water fish, fish at the top of the food chain, mollusks, and other filtrating sea life are most sensitive to caesium contamination.

The IRNS will maintain to monitor marine life off of Fukushima’s coastal waters due to significant pollution of the nearby seawater that could persistently see more pollution as radioactively contaminated runoff rainwater will enter the ocean.

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