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In March and April of 2011 the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster resulted in what was the largest ever accidental release of radioactive material into the ocean. Zofia Baumann, assistant professor of marine sciences, has researched the impacts of the disaster on marine ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean, and has authored a section of a chapter in the forthcoming book "Environmental Contamination from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster" detailing the findings of her research. She discussed her research with UConn Today, sharing some unexpectedly good news in the wake of the disaster.
Q: What are some of the impacts of the Fukushima disaster that you have found?
Fukushima - Disaster - Radioactivity - Atmosphere - Land
A: The Fukushima disaster was complex, radioactivity was deposited into the atmosphere, on the land, but much of it was dispersed into the ocean, which was actually seen as a blessing in disguise.
Even though the levels of radiation in the area and in the marine organisms were elevated, they were actually not a threat to the ecosystem or to human consumers in most cases.
Research - Currents - Ocean - Radioactivity - Ocean
Through our research we found that due to the massive currents present in the ocean, this radioactivity deposited into the ocean was quickly dispersed. The most problematic marine organisms were those found in the harbor near the plant, but the levels of radioactivity in that area reduce exponentially as one moves away from the area. The radioactivity levels are rarely a cause for concern.
Q: Can you tell us about how you tracked the radioactivity?
Fukushima - Radionuclides - Ones - Nature - Cesium
A: Fukushima delivered artificially made radionuclides, ones that are not found in nature. We tracked Cesium 134 and 137 that were made through the process of creating energy at the nuclear power plant.
While certainly the amount of radioactivity dumped into the ocean, atmosphere, and onto the land was to the point where we could detect the radiation, for most marine...
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