Mar. 10, 2014 4:44pm Liz Klimas
The radioactive plume of contaminated water said to be heading across the Pacific Ocean after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster will reach the United States within a month, scientists now think.
Tuesday marks the third anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, known in Japan as 3.11. The disaster killed nearly 16,000 people and left more than 2,000 unaccounted for in vast areas of its northern coast. Since then, the country has struggled to rebuild tsunami-hit communities and to clean up radiation from the nuclear crisis. About 50,000 people from Fukushima are still unable to return home due to concerns over radiation.
Here’s what you need to know about how this traveling plume could impact human and marine health in North America.
Where and when?
According to scientific models analyzed by a team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the plume in the Pacific Ocean will reach Alaska and coastal Canada first, and then will hit Hawaii and the rest of North America.
It is expected to hit the U.S. in April. You can keep up to do with current radiation levels on the Center for Marine and Environmental Radiation’s website.
How will it impact human health?
The levels of expected radiation are likely to be so small that it won’t negatively impact human health, according to the California Department of Public Health.
“We are not predicting that the levels will be a direct human health concern, but we can’t confirm that without samples,” Ken Buesseler, a Woods Hole senior scientist and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity, told the Huffington Post.