Monitoring remains important, after radioactive sample found near Agassiz

  • Mar. 19, 2014 7:00 p.m.

Haida Gwaii tsunami debris has tested negative to radiation contamination thus far, but low radioactivity found recently in the Fraser Valley suggests islanders should keep the samples coming.Radioactive Cesium 134 was discovered in a soil sample from Kilby Provincial Park, near Agassiz, the Vancouver Sun reported on March 12. The sample was submitted by a citizen, Aki Aano.Scientists are concerned because the radioactivity of cesium 134 is reduced by half over two years, which indicates it was transported from the Japanese nuclear plant disaster by air or water within that time.”it means there are still emissions… And trans-pacific air pollution. It’s a concern to us. This is an international issue,” Juan Jose Alva of Simon Fraser’s School of Resource and Environmental Management told the Sun.The level of Cesium 134 is not yet known, but it is thought to be low. Dr. Alva said the levels are safe right now, but that monitoring needs to continue to see whether those small levels are building in the food chain.”(Dr. Alva) said recent federal government cutbacks have placed a greater burden of testing and monitoring for aquatic impacts on academics, non-governmental organizations and even private citizens,” according to the Sun.In January, the Observer reported that Professor Jay Cullen of the University of Victoria wanted islanders and other west coast residents to submit samples to be tested for radiation associated with the Fukushima disaster.Dr. Cullen said he thought there should be more monitoring because, although release rates started dropping off since the disaster, the radioactive discharge will continue.He told the Observer the Vancouver Sun was irresponsible to imply that a health risk exists from the Agassiz sample. “The resultsÂ… were reported prematurely… They detected trace amounts of 134-cs in one soil sample and none in four other samples from the same park. They are working on replicating the analysis and having more confidence in the presence of 134-cs. Because knowing the concentration is critically important to assigning any radiological health risk, the Sun piece was irresponsible to imply that heath risks exist. The commentsÂ…about there being continued atmospheric release and transport across the pacific were unfounded and very speculative. It is much more likely that if 134-cs is present in the soil it has been there since the peak period of atmospheric transport in the first two weeks after the accident on March 11, 2011. Knowing both the 134-cs and 137-cs will be very important for determining what the source of the radionuclides ultimately is,” Dr. Cullen said.Old Massett Village Council’s Economic Development Officer John Disney is also accepting samples and has been monitoring the testing station which takes readings of the air every 10 seconds.”All OK in Old Massett so far,” was his response Friday when we asked him about recent tests for radiation.

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