Seaweed from Barkley Sound is being tested for radiation traces resulting from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors.
Simon Fraser University nuclear researchers have detected increased levels of iodine-131 (131-I) from rainwater and seaweed in the Lower Mainland.
Small amounts of the element have also been detected in Barkley Sound seaweed.
“We see 131-I in the Barkley Sound seaweed…I cannot quantify the activity since the sample is wet,” SFU nuclear researcher Kris Starosta said.
“As of now, the levels we’re seeing are not harmful to humans.”
The samples are being dried for further testing, and samples will be shipped to the university three times a week for regular testing.
Specifically, the seaweed was taken from Eagle Bay in Barkley Sound. The area was chosen for sampling because the university already networks with marine researchers there.
Researchers believe that the iodine-131 got here through the atmosphere.
“It was transported via the jet stream from Japan to the West Coast and fell down with the rain,” Starosta said.
The increased levels could only have come from the nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, which were damaged by an earthquake two weeks ago.
“But Iodine-131 is most likely anywhere since it falls down with the rain,” Starosta said.
There is no immediate danger to the public, SFU researchers cautioned.