In the wake of the deadly tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and severely damaged a nuclear reactor, Japanese officials say the levels of radiation are safe for everyone outside the reactor area itself. But as radioactive water from the plant nears the West Coast of North America — the water is expected to hit in 2014 — can we be sure it’s safe?
The nuclear reactor continues to leak radioactive water due to poor management, while Japanese subcontractors at the plant have admitted they intentionally under-reported radiation and that dozens of farms around Fukushima that were initially deemed safe by the government actually had unsafe levels of radioactive cesium.
Fukushima locals also claim they’re seeing cancer at higher rates and the Japanese government is covering up the scale of the problem. So what do independent estimates say? The first measures come from the U.S. government. The FDA has stepped up its monitoring of radiation in seafood due to the Fukushima incident.
Meanwhile, the EPA keeps track of radiation within U.S. borders and presents the data online in nearly real time through RadNet, a nationwide system of monitors.
The agency does not monitor radiation levels at sea, however, and in a statement pointed to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which relies on Japanese government data. Independent estimates confirm that radiated particles at sea are relatively low. One measurement comes from researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.