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July 30th, 2019

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About InFORM: Testing for Radionuclides from Fukushima in BC

Image source: http://fukushimainform.ca/

Image source: http://fukushimainform.ca/

InFORM is a BC-based collaboration between local citizen scientists, a testing facility at the University of Victoria and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. We are dependent on their combined efforts for reliable information about the current impact of contamination from Fukushima on our shoreline.

InFORM’s citizen scientists gather seawater samples at regular intervals at multiple collection points along the coast of British Columbia. It was the InFORM team based at Ucluelet that collected the first North American shoreline sample that tested positive for radiation from Fukushima.

The magnitiude 9.0 earthquake and the resulting tsumani on March 11, 2011 caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the northeast coast of Japan. Unprecedented amounts of radionuclides have been released into the atmosphere and directly into the Pacific Ocean as a result of this catastrophic event.

Since the accident, ocean currents have been transporting a seawater plume containing radioactive contaminants toward Canadian coastal waters and the west coast of North America. Opinions differ as to the progress and expected concentrations of isotopes of the plume, however measurements indicate that it arrived in Canadian offshore waters in June 2013.

Radionuclides from Fukushima and their associated health risks are expected to increase over the next few years. Current assessments anticipate minimal negative environmental and public health consequences in Canada due to the Fukushima disaster however proper monitoring should be in place to promptly quantify these risks and to advise the public if action is required to minimize personal exposure to harmful levels of radiation.

InFORM has stepped up to meet this need. InFORM is funded by the Canadian Government through MEOPAR, a Centre of Excellence at Dalhousie University.  They work closely with Health Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to monitor for Fukushima contamination in seawater and marine organisms. We are most fortunate and grateful for the extremely important contributions of those involved in this collaborative initiative.

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