The lack of available information about Fukushima-associated radiation risks in the Pacific Ocean and for North America’s Pacific Northwest region has caught the attention of a prestigious group of international scientists.
The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC)—which represents about 5,500 chemists, biologists, and toxicologists from more than 100 countries—is hosting a session on Fukushima’s continuing radioactive legacy during its 35th annual North American meeting, to be held in Vancouver this fall.
The rationale behind the session—according to an April 25 release from SFU faculty of environment adjunct professor and session cochair Juan Jose Alava—is to “stress the need to conduct lines of research and monitoring aimed to understand baseline data and bioaccumulation potential of radionuclides and radiation risks in the region” since the March 2011 nuclear-reactor-meltdown disaster in Japan.
This urgency came about as a result of “the lack of knowledge and data from regional governments regarding potential risks of Fukushima-associated radiation in the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Ocean”.
According to SETAC’s website, as many as 2,500 members are expected to attend up to 1,900 presentations during the five-day convention, which will take place from November 9 to 13.
The society issued a general invitation to members to submit abstracts to the session, entitled “The Fukushima Legacy: Monitoring and Assessing Risks of Radioactive/Radionuclide Contamination Along North America’s West Coast and North Pacific”. Abstracts cannot have been previously presented or published.
As-yet-unnamed experts in the field have been invited to attend, according to the release, which went on to characterize as “unfortunate” the “scant attention and lack of radiation monitoring…by the Governments of Canada and United States”.
The possible contamination of coastal and ocean food webs through bioaccumulation of radioisotopes such as Cesium 137 are described as “issues of major concern for the public health of coastal communities”.
The release singled out First Nations that rely on traditional seafoods as "particularly vulnerable".