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InFORM: International Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring Network

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    Jay Cullen University of Victoria

A collaborative radiation monitoring network to determine and communicate environmental risks for Canada’s Pacific and Arctic Oceans from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident.

The InFORM project has brought together a team from across Canada's government and academic sectors to collaborate with a US partner in assessing the environmental and human health risk that Fukushima radiation poses on the west coast of Canada and North America.

For this research, monitoring Fukushima radionuclides 134-Cs (fingerprint isotope w/ half-life: 2 yr) and 137-Cs (half-life: ~30 yr) in the open and coastal ocean is combined with monitoring ecologically and economically important salmon. The Fukushima plume was first detected off BC's shores in 2013 and biannual research cruises indicate that contamination is still increasing offshore. Coastal monitoring began in October 2014 with the start of InFORM funding. A team of citizen scientists in 16 coastal communities was assembled to collect monthly seawater samples. This citizen network, from Victoria to Haida Gwaii, collected the first example with 134-Cs in February 2015. Since then, samples with 134-Cs are phemeral due to radioactive decay short-lived radionuclide, however, the leading edge of the plume has permeated through the network based on the increasing trend observed in 137-Cs concentrations.

To assess bioaccumulation risks to humans, ~260 salmon were donated in 2014-2015 from 11 First Nations in BC and Yukon. While all samples have tested negative for Fukushima radiation, these communities, the $500 million fishing industry, and the public are reassured that a dietary staple is safe. These results are communicated to the public through the project website (www.fukushimainform.ca) (50k+ views), social media (1000+ followers), monthly e-newsletter (575+ recipients), public presentations in coastal communities and online, and traditional media (162 articles in 22 countries). 

Partners:

  • Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
  • Georgia Strait Alliance
  • Health Canada - Radiation Protection Bureau
  • Raincoast Education Society
  • The Living Oceans Society
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Investigators:

  • Ken Buesseler Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Jing Chen Health Canada
  • Erica Frank University of British Colombia
  • John Smith Dalhousie University; Fisheries and Oceans Canada

MEOPeers:

  • Michael Cooke Health Canada
  • Jonathan Kellogg University of Victoria
  • Cole MacDonald University of Victoria
  • Jean-Francois Mercier Health Canada
  • Kathryn Purdon University of Victoria
  • Susan Reynolds University of Victoria

Publications:

  • Brown,Moira,Smith,John,. 2015, Arrival of the Fukushima radioactivity plume in North American continental waters, PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015 112 (5) 1310-1315,
  • Cornett,Jack,MacDonald,Cole,CRJ Charles, X-L Zhao, WE Kieser. 2016, Measurement of the Cs-135 half life with accelerator mass spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Phys Rev., C 93, 014310,
  • Chen,Jing,Cooke,Michael,Mercier,Jean-Francois,Trudel,Marc ,. 2014, A report on radioactivity measurements of fish samples from the west coast of Canada, Radiat. Prot. Dosim, 10.1093/rpd/ncu150.
  • Cornett,Jack,MacDonald,Cole,Zhao, X-L, CRJ Charles, WE Kieser, K Zaki, N St-Jean. . 2016, An exploratory study of recycled sputtering and CsF2- current enhancement for AMS, Nucl Instrum Meth B., 366: 96-103,10.1016/j.nimb.2015.10.026..
  • . 2015, Detection of 135Cs by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Rapid Advances in Mass Spectrometry, Volume29(Issue1),
  • Cornett,Jack,. 2015, Determination of 135Cs by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Nuclear Instrumentation and Methods,
  • Buesseler,Ken,M. Dai, M. Aoyama, C. Benitez-Nelson, S. Charmasson, K. Higley, V. Maderich, P. Masque, D. Oughton, and J.N. Smith. 0, Fukushima Daiichi-derived radionuclides in the ocean: transport, fate, and impacts, Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci, 9:1.1-1.31,10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060733..

InFORM is a monitoring network involving academic, government, non-governmental organizations and citizen scientists to acquire data, assess radiological risks to Canada’s oceans associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster and rapidly, appropriately and effectively disseminate this information to the public.

Visit the InFORM web site.

Follow InFORM on Twitter.

Watch more InFORM videos on YouTube.