Old Massett measuring radiation

  • Apr. 20, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Old Massett is taking steps to protect islanders from possible radioactive debris.The village has installed a radiological health monitoring station a year after the Japanese tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The station continuously monitors the air for radioactive particles, said Old Masset economic development officer John Disney.The device takes readings every 10 seconds and reports them to Mr. Disney’s office. “It has been alarmed to go off if readings rise too high,” he said, “at which time I can receive expert advice as to the severity of the situation.” The monitor will also be able to test debris, fish, seaweed and water samples when required.After having difficulty purchasing traditional equipment and training community members to operate it, the village instead built it’s own monitoring system with high-tech outside help, said Mr. Disney. “In the end this proved to be better,” he said, “as now we have complete control of the process and the data.””If there is any increase in radiation from the Japanese tsunami and reactor disaster, and the debris drifting toward Haida Gwaii and Canada, Old Massett is now in a position to record it and inform the community and Haida Gwaii.””The system is sensitive enough to detect the tiny radiation from natural sources as benign as a slice of banana,” said Mr. Disney. “Now in service, it is providing peace of mind to community members.”