(Vancouver, BC) – Sixty-nine years after the end of WWII, Japan is once again invading the West Coast of North America. This time, however, it isn’t a sneak attack, but rather an attack that has taken years to sneak up on the continent.
Two years and 11½ months after an earthquake hit Japan, triggering a tsunamis that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the radioactive ocean water generated by the accident has found its way to Canada’s British Columbia. It’s safe to say Vancouver could very well have done without this development.
The March 11, 2011, 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis knocked out both primary power and backup generators at Fukushima. Without functioning pumps to keep the reactors dry, several exploded and melted down. When all was said and done, nearly 20,000 were dead and hundreds of thousands dealt with destroyed cities and homes, some wiped clean from the map, others too irradiated for human habitation.
“The Fukushima incident was a disaster in the true sense of the word,” said a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), speaking on condition of anonymity. “No electricity, backup redundant systems failing. It sounds like a normal day for Pepco!”
Pepco is the electric company serving much of the Washington, DC area. It has been criticized over the past decade for ever-increasing rates and poor service, especially after severe summertime storms.
Ironically, in Japan it is the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that has been held to answer for the Fukushima incident.
The water became radioactive in an attempt to cool down the four nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the disaster. In addition, on-site tanks currently holding radioactive ocean water have ruptured at times, spilling even more toxic substances into the Pacific Ocean.
Canadian officials know the water has finally arrived because of the presence of two radioactive cesium isotopes: cesium-134 and cesium-137. While cesium-137 is present off the coast of British Columbia from other factors, such as nuclear weapons testing and excessive consumption of Canadian bacon, cesium-134 is the telltale Fukushima marker because it can only be present from the after-effects of Fukushima.
Canadian officials don’t seem overly worried about the situation and point out the levels of both cesium-134 and cesium-137 are well below levels considered dangerous by Environment Canada, the country’s equivalent of America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The levels of cesium are measured in Becquerels, or the number of radioactive decay events per second. The levels deemed safe by the EPA are 28 Becquerels and less. The latest EPA tests find the West Coast’s levels currently range from 1.3 to 1.7 Becquerels.
“We don’t think there’s any danger at this time, eh?” said an Environment Canada spokesman, speaking aboot the issue on condition of anonymity. “The levels are so low they’re not even worth mentioning, eh? Yes, they’re elevated from ‘normal’ levels but not at extreme numbers, eh? We’re not talking Chernobyl here, eh? There’s no human threat from the cesium at this time, eh?”
Reactor #4 at Chernobyl, a Soviet-era nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, exploded on April 26, 1986, irradiating most of Europe. The cesium levels reached 1,000 Becquerels.
Humans may have nothing to worry about from the Fukushima cesium, but they’re worried about other creatures that may be prone to cesium poisoning. The biggest concern is a return of the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, which may be stirred by the radioactivity.
“We’ve seen ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Mothra’ in movies for years, eh?” said a Vancouver resident, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We know that radiation brought them out of hibernation. It could happen again, and if the Yeti is on the prowl, no one in Vancouver is safe, eh?”
The EPA plans to coordinate efforts with the NRC and test the ocean waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California on a regular basis. And recent spot-tests from the Atlantic Ocean mean more tests are planned on the East Coast as well. Testing off the coast of New Jersey found levels below 1.0 Becquerels, but also found elevated levels of oil, sewage, and syringes.