Is radioactive waste from a damaged power plant in Japan currently flooding the Pacific Ocean, potentially poisoning the coastline of the U.S. and other countries?
TRUE: But it will be so diluted that it should be harmless
Radioactive fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be hitting the shores of the United States in 2014, about three years after a tsunami and hurricane damaged the plant. But experts tell MSN News that any waste reaching the states should be completely harmless.
"Yes, we do expect radioactive material to reach the U.S. coast by March 2014, but the concentrations in the water are more than a thousand times less than what is considered safe drinking water by the World Health Organization," said Erik van Sebille, lead author of a study tracing the radioactive fallout from the disaster.
Fake graphics attributed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — like the one seen in the Salon story — depict the spread of fallout across the Pacific as much worse than the reality. Van Sebille and his team created a far less dramatic web simulation on the Adrift site.
Van Sebille said that the North Pacific waters have helped dilute the radioactive material to very low but measurable concentrations.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for oceanographers to study the circulation of the ocean, but most likely not something for the public to worry about," he said.
Though the waste doesn’t present a significant risk in the United States, Tokyo Electric Power Co. still needs to figure out what to do with 330,000 metric tons — or 132 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of radioactive water from the disaster, Bloomberg wrote. Salon wrote that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has expressed interest in helping the power company deal with the issue.
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