Californians Needn’t Worry About Fukushima-Irradiated Water

Radiation from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster is just reaching the West Coast, but amounts shouldn't concern residents.
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster 2011
Californians Needn't Worry About Fukushima-Irradiated Water|Photo by

Remnants of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster have finally made their way from Japan to the West Coast, but California residents shouldn’t be worried about it.

Small amounts of radioactivity have been detected in the waters 100 miles due west of Eureka, Calif., according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), which is monitoring the situation.

The amounts, which have been carried across the ocean by currents, are too small to do any serious harm to humans, according to WHOI.

The amount of cesium-134 reported in these new offshore data is less than 2 Becquerels per cubic meter (the number of decay events per second per 260 gallons of water). This Fukushima-derived cesium is far below where one might expect any measurable risk to human health or marine life, according to international health agencies. And it is more than 1,000 times lower than acceptable limits in drinking water set by US EPA.

“We detected cesium-134, a contaminant from Fukushima, off the northern California coast.  The levels are only detectable by sophisticated equipment able to discern minute quantities of radioactivity,” said Ken Buesseler, a WHOI marine chemist who is leading the monitoring effort.

For more information on the radiation from Fukushima, please visit