22 January, 11:20

Fukushima radiation reaches Pacific Coast: US gov't does nothing to monitor air, food and water – California residents

Fukushima radiation reaches Pacific Coast: US gov't does nothing to monitor air, food and water – California residents

The US government and the Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for protecting human health and the environment, are not doing enough to systematically monitor air, food and ocean waters for radiation levels after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in March 2011, California coast community say. Additionally no US government agency monitors radiation levels in ocean water.

John Bertucci, filmmaker and resident of the California’s northern coast, says that he has to carry Geiger counter wherever he goes to measure radiation levels in the air, water and food. He believes that the US government or local authorities are not monitoring radiation levels and there is no official data on the level of the radiation in California.

"Japan is thousands of miles from the California coast but there are indicators that the radiation is reaching California," said Bertucci, who also founded Fukushima Response, a social network for people living in northern California to share data on radiation in their neighborhood. 

Fukushima Response members say that they are not convinced that the Environmental Protection Agency, a US governmental agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment, is doing enough to monitor radiation levels.

RadNet, the agency's air monitoring system, consists of 132 stationary monitors spread throughout the US. In total, each state has one or two stationary air monitors, and only Texas and California have 11 monitors each, the most of any states.

But radiation monitoring experts and activists says that the RadNet system is inadequate and can't protect the public in case of a major nuclear disaster, especially if something goes wrong at one of the 104 US nuclear power reactors or there are additional explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In 2012, the EPA Office of the Inspector General voiced concerns that 25 out of 124 or 20 percent of the EPA's air monitoring stations were not working right after the Fukushima disaster.

Fukushima response activists are not satisfied with the EPA radiation monitoring and point out that the system is funded by tax payer money and that people do not get adequate and understandable data from the agency.

"There is no systematic testing in the US of air, food, and water for radiation, continuous testing is needed," said Eric Norman, a nuclear engineering professor at University of California Berkeley.

Norman has been voicing concerns since the Japanese government admitted in late July that more radioactive water has been coursing into the Pacific Ocean then they first had reported and in late November the Japanese government started removing more than 1500 fuel rods from reactor number four.

According to scientists from the University of California Santa Cruz and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)), who monitor marine animals in the Pacific Ocean, there are signs of low-level radioactivity in California fish. Starfish, Pacific bluefin tunas, sea lions, whales, dolphins, anchovies, and other marine animals either haves mall amounts of radioactive elements from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, or diseases caused by radiation.

According to marine chemist Ken Buesseler, who works for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a non-profit research organization based in Massachusetts and focused on studying the ocean, weeks after the March 2011 Fukushima Plant disaster occurred a large plume of radioactive air swept across the Pacific Ocean and over California. And it took almost three years for the radioactive waters to reach the Pacific Ocean.

"The effects of Fukushima will be increasing as the front edge of a large water plume coming from the nuclear plant will reach California soon and increase over the years," said Buesseler.

He also informed US government officials responsible for monitoring radiation levels in air, food, and water about the radiation level in California, but there was no response. He was told that there is no evidence of environmental impact or affects on public health.

"They all said that it's not their responsibility to test the Pacific Ocean for radiation. This issue is falling between the cracks of government responsibility. It’s a health and safety issue here," Buesseler said.

However some members of Fukushima Response say that a lack of data doesn't mean that the issue doesn't exist.

Read more:

New radioactive water leakage at Fukushima power plant (Video)

Japan to freeze the ground at Fukushima to prevent contaminated water leakage

Voice of Russia, Al Jazeera

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