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Looking back and looking forward from Japanese tsunami

March 11, 2014

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the Japanese earthquake & tsunami, and Japan is still searching for answers on what to do with the evacuees and the climbing rates of suicide of those affected.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami with waves as high as 133 feet. More than 15,000 people died and about 6,000 were injured.

According to Northwest Cable News, scientists are reporting that very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster will likely reach ocean waters along the West Coast next month.

“The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast,” said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium 134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

Current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won’t harm humans or the environment, said Buesseler.

But Buesseler and other scientists are calling for more monitoring. No federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation, he said.

“I’m not trying to be alarmist,” Buesseler said. “We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it’s safe?”

By the time it gets here, the material will be so diluted as to be almost negligible, the models predict.

Washington does not test ocean water for radiation.

“We have none happening now and we have none planned,” said Tim Church, communications director for the Washington State Department of Health. “Typically that would be something that would happen on the federal level.”

So far, results are in for two locations in Washington and three in California. They show that the plume has not yet reached the coast.

Meanwhile, West Coast states are winding down their tsunami debris response efforts.

If that doesn’t change, officials likely will disband a task force that was mobilized to deal with the debris.

Last year, Washington suspended its marine debris reporting hotline.

Debris

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