As part of the North Coast Marine Speakers Series, Professor Jay T. Cullen will be speaking about the Japanese tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.
Cullen is an Associate Professor at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria.
He’s also a member of Fukushima InFORM, a monitoring network that’s gathering data to assess the radiological danger to Canada’s oceans after the 2011 Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster.
InFORM analyzes ocean water samples taken by the Coast Guard far offshore and a network of citizen scientists who gather samples along the B.C. coast,.
He says earlier this year they found traces of Fukushima radiation off Ucluelet.
It’s the first time this has been found on the North American coast, but he says the levels are extremely low and not a threat to humans or animals.
They’ve also take samples from salmon and trout to see if they’ve been impacted by radiation, and none of their samples came up with Fukushima radiation.
He does say though, they did find longer lasting radioactive cesium-137 in those samples, which came from nuclear weapons testing during the 1960’s to 1980’s.
The nuclear isotopes from Fukushima will peak in the Eastern Pacific either this year or next, then return to levels similar to what they were seeing before the disaster.
He says since the levels of radioactive isotopes are so low to begin with, the risk of radiation build-up in the food chain is minimal.
But he says continual monitoring is important to ensure the reality fits the scientists’ models.
Cullen says they’re still looking for citizen scientists to help take samples, but warns that it is a significant commitment.
He’s also looking for input from people on the North Coast about what marine animals they’re most concerned about so he can add them to their monitoring list.
Cullen will be speaking on June 3rd in Prince Rupert at the Nisg’a Hall at 7pm to 8pm, and then on June 4 at the Terrace Northwest Community College Longhouse from 7pm to 8pm.
The presentation is free and open to the public.
More information about InFORM can be found at: fukushimainform.ca.