Radioactive Ocean Website Garners Support

Posted by Eric Haun
Monday, February 24, 2014

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has teamed up with the public to build the most comprehensive and up-to-date dataset on marine radiation levels in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster. With no U.S. government or international plan to monitor the radiation levels in the ocean since the disaster, WHOI marine chemist Ken Buesseler launched a crowdsourcing campaign and citizen science website to include and empower the public. He is posting all of the current radiation level data online.

“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,” said Ken Buesseler, WHOI senior scientist and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity (CMER).

Launched in January, the crowdsourcing campaign has received over 160 individual donations totaling about $24,000. The public has responded by sponsoring and raising funds to cover the cost of the on-going collection of seawater samples at 24 locations along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Canada, down the West Coast of the U.S. and out to the Hawaiian islands. The samples are shipped to the CMER lab in Woods Hole, Mass., for analysis and the information is posted online.

Although Buesseler does not expect levels to be high enough in the ocean or in seafood to be of concern for human health as the plume spreads 5,000 miles across the Pacific, he believes the situation demands careful, consistent monitoring.

“What we really need is support to sample the same sites multiple times over the next couple of years in order to fully monitor the plume’s arrival and movement over time,” said Buesseler about building a complete dataset of information.

No traces of Fukushima’s cesium-134 have been detected in Buesseler’s analyses yet. And, the level of cesium-137 is what's expected from the 1960s sources (1.5-2 Bequerels per cubic meter).

According to scientific models, the plume of radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is forecasted to be detectable along the Pacific Coast in April 2014. Traces of Fukushima’s radiation are predicted to reach Alaska and coastal Canada first because of the trajectory of the powerful Kuroshio Current that flows from Japan across the Pacific. The plume will continue to circulate down the coast of North America and back towards Hawaii.

Science Made Public

Buesseler was motivated to launch this program to empower the public with real scientific data.

“The unknown can breed fear. But in this case, science can give us the information we all need in order to make informed decisions,” he said.

The website, ourradioactiveocean.org, contains educational information about radiation in the ocean and impacts on human health. The website has garnered more than 41,000 visits to-date.

Through the website, the public can support the monitoring of radiation in the ocean with tax-deductible donations to fund the on-going radioisotope analysis in the Pacific Ocean.

“We already have dozens of seawater samples from the coast of Japan out to the middle of the Pacific, but we need additional samples—from up and down the West Coast of North America and across the Pacific. The trouble is, these samples are expensive to collect and analyze,” Buesseler said.

To propose a new location for seawater sampling, individuals and communities will be asked to donate a minimum of $100 for seed funding. Not every proposed site can be accepted due to limits on analytical time and lab resources, but if selected, WHOI sets up a fundraising webpage to help a group reach their fundraising goal. The collection and analysis of one seawater sample costs between $550-600, depending upon location. Once the full amount is raised, the individual will receive a sampling kit to collect 20 liters (about five gallons) of seawater to be shipped back to the CMER lab for analysis.

The data is being posted on the website, ourradioactiveocean.org. Support is needed for CMER’s on-going efforts to train the next generation of radio-marine chemists and to purchase additional cesium gamma detectors, which cost about $75,000 each, and can be given by donating to the capacity building campaign.

whoi.edu

Maritime Reporter March 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

USCG Flush Ice down River Systems to Facilitate Shipping

The Coast Guard cutter fleet is flushing ice through the Great Lakes river systems to prevent ice jams and facilitate commercial shipping as the shipping season

Chile Desert Rains Sign of Climate Change

The heavy rainfall that battered Chile's usually arid north this week happened because of climate change, a senior meteorologist said, as the region gradually

Mexico Unveils National Strategy ahead of Paris Climate Talks

Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan the

Energy

Feds Delay LNG’s Port Ambrose Application

The US Coast Guard and the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) have temporarily suspended their review of the proposed Port Ambrose deep-water LNG import terminal.

Austal Graduates 48 4-Yr Apprentices

Austal USA combined two classes to graduate a total of 48 members of Austal’s cutting-edge four-year apprenticeship program yesterday at a formal ceremony held at the Arthur R.

Mexico Unveils National Strategy ahead of Paris Climate Talks

Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan the

News

Is China Building a Naval Base in Africa?

Recently, The Namibian reported the existence of a "confidential letter from Namibia's ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia's foreign minister stating that

JV Wins $2bln Freeport LNG Contract in US

A joint venture (JV) between CB&I, Chiyoda International and Zachry Industrial has won a contract worth over $2bn from FLNG Liquefaction 3 for a liquefied natural

Puerto Rico Readies for Largest Cruise Ships

Thanks to a pier expansion and enhancement, Puerto Rico will welcome the two largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, in 2016.

Marine Science

Changes in Aker Solutions' Top Deck

Tore Sjursen will assume the position as executive vice president for operational improvement and risk management at Aker Solutions on April 1. Knut Sandvik

Salvage, Wreck Removal Beset with Chronic Problems

The basic nature of maritime casualties, salvage and wreck removal has evolved rapidly over the last few years. Ships and offshore constructions have become more technologically elaborate,

Moskito to Recover Oil from Sunken Wrecks

A tool for removing oil in submerged vessels was developed in Norway by Miko Marine. Moskito is designed to address the pollution threat that exists with the

Ocean Observation

Is China Building a Naval Base in Africa?

Recently, The Namibian reported the existence of a "confidential letter from Namibia's ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia's foreign minister stating that

Indonesia Partners with China on Maritime

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged increased maritime cooperation during the formers visit to China.   The joint

Damen joins World Ocean Council

Dutch-based Damen Shipyards Group has become the latest member of the World Ocean Council (WOC).    The global shipbuilder headquartered in the Netherlands is

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Naval Architecture Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1418 sec (7 req/sec)