Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster reaches Canada

Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster reaches Canada

According to Vancouver-based Simon Fraser University, radiation from the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, has been detected in rainwater samples and seaweed in British Columbia.

British Columbia is the western-most province of Canada.

University researchers said they found iodine-131 in samples taken in the Lower Mainland area of Vancouver March 19, 20 and 25.

The local Vancouver Sun quoted university nuclear scientist Kris Starosta as saying that they are confident that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is responsible for the discovery of iodine-131.

But he said the current radiation levels posed no threat to Canadians.

"As of now, the levels we are seeing are not harmful to humans. We are basing this on Japanese studies following the Chernobyl incident in 1986 where levels of iodine-131 were four times higher than what we have detected in our rainwater so far,'' Starosta said.

"Studies of nuclear incidents and exposures are used to define radiation levels at which the increase in cancer risk is statistically significant. When compared to the information we have today, we have not reached levels of elevated risk.''

The nuclear scientist said iodine-131 could be detected in Canada even three or four weeks after the Fukushima nuclear reactor is brought under control and stops releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere.

He said they will keep monitoring levels of iodine-131 levels.

But even 20 days after the disaster, Japanese scientists have failed to control the leaking six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex, with the International Atomic Energy Agency calling the situation still "very serious.''

Over 27,000 people are dead or missing after the March 11 tragedy.