New Journal Article: Fukushima may have already released 90 quadrillion becquerels of cesium-137 — Much more than Chernobyl’s 70 quadrillion becquerels

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
By Paul Martin
January 8th, 2014

Early Online Release: Fukushima and Ocean Radioactivity, Ken O. Buesseler, Journal of The Oceanography Society, Jan. 5, 2014: [The] earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent radiation releases from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant were unprecedented events for the ocean and society. […] Total releases [of cesium-137] from Fukushima are not well constrained, with estimates from atmospheric fallout and direct ocean discharge spanning 4 to 90 peta Becquerels (PBq), but are most likely in the 15–30 PBq range. […] Cs concentrations in benthic fish stay elevated over predictions […] Fukushima-tagged surface waters will reach the US West Coast [in the range of] two to four years […] To determine which model predictions are more accurate would require more extensive vertical sampling across the Pacific than is currently available. Some information will be forthcoming from analyses underway in Japan and the United States, and monitoring of coastal activities along the United States […] In the aftermath of Fukushima—after years of relative complacency— the public and policymakers have renewed concerns about radioactive contamination.

In this new article Buesseler states the total cesium-137 released from Chernobyl is 100 PBq, though just a few months ago he used 85 PBq as the total (see slide 4). The United Nations’ original estimate of 85 PBq was later revised to 70 PBq when more accurate data became available. Using the 100 PBq total for Chernobyl instead of 85 PBq, or even the U.N.’s 70 PBq, removes the possibility of the reader being left with the impression that the Fukushima disaster (up to 90 PBq) may be the worst nuclear plant release in history.

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