News Column

Conservationists Testing Oregon Coast for Radiation

June 29, 2014

Three years after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake shook Japan and caused radiation-contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant to enter the Pacific Ocean, conservationists along the U.S. Pacific coast are worried.

Trace amounts of radiation were expected to hit the United States' west coast by this time, amounts so small experts say it shouldn't harm humans or the environment.

But some are worried the tainted ocean water may not be so harmless, so they're taking testing of the water into their own hands to make sure.

The Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, which is dedicated to conservation of estuaries and watersheds in western Oregon, is collecting samples from the Pacific to test for radiation.

"The predicted modeling shows that we should start to see it coming along our coastline at very low levels," said Lisa Phipps, executive director of theTillamook Estuaries Partnership said of the radiation. "When we took this on, it wasn't to incite any kind of fear in people. It is a data collection effort."

Another group, a crowd-sourced, citizen-science project, is also testing waters along the Oregon coast.

"We've been worried about it and worried about it," said Zac Adams, who owns a construction company in Brandon, Ore. "We're really concerned about it affecting the fisheries, the wildlife, the tourism and most importantly our health."

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