Scientists rely on crowdsourcing to test for Fukushima radiation in absence of government monitoring
by: Ethan A. Huff
Friday, April 04, 2014
You’ve probably seen them floating around the ‘net recently — “crowdsourcing” projects that are raising money to implement new ideas or technologies that otherwise would not have significant enough financial backing through traditional investment channels. Well, now a group of concerned scientists and volunteers has started one to track and measure radiation coming from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, since neither the Japanese nor U.S. governments seem all that concerned about doing this important work themselves.
Fox News reports that a network of crowdsourced volunteers is right now collecting water samples from beaches up and down the West Coast to measure radiation levels in lieu of official government testing on behalf of public health. Federal regulators remain insistent that Fukushima radiation is not a public health threat, and both California and Washington have individually decided not to perform their own testing. Only Oregon, it turns out, is collecting any water samples at all, and even these are being tested only at higher levels that more closely align with federal thresholds.
“We know there’s contaminated water coming out of there, even today,” says Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hold Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, a major supporter of the project. “What we don’t really know is how fast and how much is being transported across the Pacific. Yes, the models tell us it will be safe. Yes, the levels we expect off the coast of the U.S. and Canada are expected to be low. But we need measurements, especially now as the plume begins to arrive along the West Coast.”
Grassroots effort accomplishing what governments have failed to address