Citizen scientists can fill info gaps about Fukushima effects, Northern Gateway pipeline ignores strong opposition of First Nations


A radioactive plume is expected to reach the West Coast sometime this year, but experts say it will be diluted by currents off Japan’s east coast. (Credit: Jeffery Young)

Citizen scientists can fill info gaps about Fukushima effects

By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington, Senior Editor

An Internet search turns up an astounding number of pages about radiation from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown that followed an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. But it’s difficult to find credible information.

One reason is that government monitoring of radiation and its effects on fish stocks appears to be limited. According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “No U.S. government or international agency is monitoring the spread of low levels of radiation from Fukushima along the West Coast of North America and around the Hawaiian Islands.”

A radioactive plume is expected to reach the West Coast sometime this year, but experts say it will be diluted by currents off Japan’s east coast and, according to the Live Science website, “the majority of the cesium-137 will remain in the North Pacific gyre — a region of ocean that circulates slowly clockwise and has trapped debris in its center to form the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ — and continue to be diluted for approximately a decade following the initial Fukushima release in 2011.”

With the lack of data from government, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is asking the public for help. In January, Ken Buesseler, senior scientist and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity at the U.S.-based non-profit, launched a fundraising campaign and citizen science website to collect and analyze seawater along North America’s West Coast. “Whether you agree with predictions that levels of radiation along the Pacific Coast of North America will be too low to be of human health concern or to impact fisheries and marine life, we can all agree that radiation should be monitored, and we are asking for your help to make that happen,” Buesseler said in a news release.

IMPORTANT: Participants can help fund and propose new sites for seawater sampling, and collect seawater to ship to the lab for analysis. The David Suzuki Foundation is the point group for two sampling sites, on Haida Gwaii and at Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Data will be published at How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?, and will include an evolving map showing cesium concentrations with links to information about radioactivity in the ocean and what the levels mean.


Joint Review Panel recommendation to support Northern Gateway pipeline ignores strong opposition of First Nations and citizens

Photo credit: Marco Guada via flickr.

The Joint Review Panel has recommended approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline. But this is far from over. You can take action now to support First Nations, protect our coast, and move towards a carbon free future.

Please send a message of support to the 130 First Nations that stand against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Let them know you stand with them in solidarity as part of an unbroken wall of opposition.

This message will also be sent to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet who now have the choice to side with Canadians or with Enbridge. The decision is in their hands. To move forward, they need First Nations cooperation and support from British Columbians, and they have neither.

The David Suzuki Foundation signed the Solidarity Accord for the Save the Fraser Declaration, agreeing with the Yinka Dene Alliance that we need to uphold indigenous laws and protect the health of British Columbia’s Fraser River watershed, including its headwaters.

And the vast majority agree. At community hearings across BC, the Joint Review Panel heard from 1,159 people who spoke against the pipeline. Only two spoke for it.

Remember, this isn’t the end of the discussion. Make your voice heard now.



Let's discuss!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s