Bloomberg, Dec. 6, 2013: Fukushima Radiation to Reach U.S. Coast at Safe Levels, NRC Says […] as the first isotopes linked to the plant near the West Coast. “The highest amount of radiation that will reach the U.S. is two orders of magnitude — 100 times — less than the drinking water standard*,” [NRC chair] Allison Macfarlane said in Tokyo today. […] The impending arrival of water […] has prompted concerns about health impacts. […] [It] will reach mainland U.S. shores by early 2014, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler. Macfarlane also endorsed [Japan] releasing irradiated water stored at the Fukushima plant […]
*NRC, Sept. 2013: 10 Bq/L [of cesium-137] is the World Health Organization drinking water standard. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit is 7.41 Bq/L. (Limits converted from Bq/L to Bq/m³: WHO = 10,000 Bq/m³ and EPA = 7,410 Bq/m³)
Macfarlane’s estimate of “100 times less than the drinking water standard” works out to a Cs-137 level in West Coast seawater of between 74 Bq/m³ and 100 Bq/m³.
In the recent study V. Rossi et al. (2013) the highest Cs-137 level predicted for West Coast seawater was 30 Bq/m³.
Though officials claim the cesium-137 in the ocean water is ‘safe’ for humans to drink, fish bio-concentrate cs-137 at a rate of 100 times the level found in the surrounding water. For seals and sea lions it’s up to 1,000 times. (Source: IAEA)
Macfarlane also did not mention the contaminated sea water will be impacting the California coast until the mid-2020s, according to V. Rossi et al. (2013). Note that the study’s findings may be a considerable underestimation, as it is based on releases from Fukushima Daiichi ending in April 2011 — yet the plant has been releasing a reported 400 tons of radioactive water every day since the disaster in March 2011.