Water exposed to radiation from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima atomic plant will reach the U.S. at safe levels, the chairwoman of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said as the first isotopes linked to the plant near the West Coast.
“The highest amount of radiation that will reach the U.S. is two orders of magnitude -- 100 times -- less than the drinking water standard,” Allison Macfarlane said in Tokyo today. “So, if you could drink the salt water, which you won’t be able to do, it’s still fairly low.”
The impending arrival of water exposed to the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Dai-Ichi plant to the U.S. West Coast has prompted concerns about health impacts. Council members in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fairfax yesterday passed a resolution calling for more testing of coastal seafood and for international experts to work on reducing radiation emissions from the Japanese plant.
Radiation released during explosions at the plant meltdowns and during subsequent leaks of contaminated underground water will reach mainland U.S. shores by early 2014, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler.
Macfarlane also endorsed a recommendation this week by an International Atomic Energy Agency official who said Japan should consider releasing irradiated water stored at the Fukushima plant after treating it to remove most contaminants so only some tritium remains.