Lower Cook Inlet Waters are Radiation Free

Test results released Nov. 10 by Cook Inletkeeper, in Homer, Alaska, find there were no effects in salmon rich Kachemak Bay from radiation emissions from the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

Inletkeeper, a community based nonprofit organization whose goal is protection of Alaska’s Cook Inlet watershed said the study was done with experts at Woods Hole’s Center for Marine and Environmental Radiation.

Water samples taken just north of Yukon Island in Kachemak Bay on Sept. 12, with assistance from staff of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were analyzed by CMER, to assure Alaskans that those waters were not contaminated, said Bob Shavelson, Inletkeeper executive director.

“We’ve received countless calls from Alaskans concerned about possible radiation contamination in Alaska waters,” Shavelson said. “So we’re happy to learn we’re not seeing the effects of Fukushima in Lower Cook Inlet waters at this time.”

CMER said in its report that they did not detect in the water sample any Cesium-134, the isotope tracer of the Fukushima release.

“This isotope has a short half-life (2 years) so any Cs-134 in the ocean today came from Fukushima,” the report said. “We detected 1.2 Bq per cubic meter of Cs-137, and this is typical of the background levels found in the Pacific as a result of nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. Cs-137 has a half-life of 30 years, so that is why low levels can still be detected from that earlier source. If water influenced by Fukushima were in your sample, we would expect to detect Cs-134 and elevated levels of Cs-137, which we did not.”

CMER also released a statement on Nov. 10 announcing the “presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles due west of Eureka, California.

CMER said it found no elevated radioactivity in near shore waters, and the level in offshore waters “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.”