In March 2011, a massive 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan, causing massive destruction and creating a raging tsunami which swept ashore, wrecking buildings, flooding roads, and even taking a nuclear reactor offline causing a massive health scare for the local Japanese.
That nuclear reactor was damaged badly enough that the safety measures designed to protect it failed, and radiation was released into the air and into the sea. Now, five years later, the radiation associated with the Fukushima disaster has finally washed up on American shores.
This has been the largest nuclear disaster in years. Other nuclear events with massive repercussions included Chernobyl, Ukraine back in 1986, which left the town uninhabitable after a meltdown at a nuclear plant. To this day, the plants and flowers have shown mutations that can be only explained by massive exposure to radiation.
Other events of intense radiation exposure include the use of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during WWII. The US Government wished to avoid a massive invasion of Japan with US troops so they deployed two bombs over two of Japan’s massively populated cities. The damage was catastrophic, and US leadership told the Japanese Emperor that America would continue to drop a bomb a week on Japanese cities unless the Japanese surrendered immediately- the Emperor complied.
In the generations that followed the use of atomic bombs on Japanese soil, there was an increase in birth defects and cancers from the exposure to the radiation.
So the fact that America is now seeing radiation from the Fukushima disaster at our doorstep is a potential health scare. Scientists have been tracking the radiation since the accident through water samples which contain a “fingerprint” of Fukushima’s radiation.
This “fingerprint” is Cesium-134, an isotope unique to the radiation associated with the Japanese reactor. Scientists discovered it off the coast of Oregon, according to USA Today:
The Oregon samples, marking the first time cesium-134 has been detected on U.S. shores, were taken in January and February of 2016 and later analyzed.
The scientists doing the investigation are not worried about the trace amounts of Cesium 134 currently found in the water, thinking it’s not strong enough to pose a threat to humans.
What they are worried about is the Fukushima reactor remnants that have not been reinforced. As they’ve watched the present plume travel across the Pacific, they fear a follow-up accident would follow the same path. with higher levels of contaminant.
[I]f there is another disaster or accident at the Fukushima plant, which houses more than a thousand huge steel tanks of contaminated water and where hundreds of tons of molten fuel remain inside the reactors, in a worst-case scenario, the fuel would melt through steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels into the ground, uncontrollably spreading radiation into the surrounding soil and groundwater and eventually into the sea.
If Japan does experience another earthquake/tsunami combo that destabilizes the reactor, at least you know you have some time before the contamination reaches the USA. You can prepare for it by knowing where your food is coming from (i.e. Don’t eat salmon from the Oregon coast right now), supplementing with iodine, and getting water from a pure source like a ground well.