Program and Agenda



The triple disaster of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent radiation releases at Fukushima Dai-ichi were unprecedented events for the ocean and society. In this tutorial, the radioactive releases from Fukushima are compared to natural and prior human sources. Total Cs-137 releases from Fukushima are most likely in the 15-30 peta Bequerel range, with an equal amount of Cs-134. This is smaller than 1960’s fallout, but of similar magnitude to the Sellafield UK reprocessing site, and greater than what reached the ocean from Chernobyl. The fate of Cs is largely determined by its soluble nature in seawater, though uptake in sediments does occur via Cs’ association with both detrital particles and biological uptake and sedimentation. Cesium’s continued supply from the rivers and ongoing leakages suggests that coastal sediments may remain contaminated for decades to come. This may be one reason why benthic fish near Fukushima remain elevated in Cs causing ongoing public concern. Fukushima cesium will be detectable along the US coast in late 2013 to 2014, but at levels below those considered of human health concern.


Buesseler, K. O., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA,


Oral presentation

Session #:175D
Date: 2/27/2014
Time: 14:30
Location: 310 Theater

Presentation is given by student: No