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Monday, 15 August 2011

Radioactive isotope, maybe from Fukushima, detected again in US

Radioactive isotope, maybe from Fukushima, detected, but ...

Very small amounts of a radioactive isotope of sulfur, believed to have traveled across the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, have been detected in La Jolla, Calif., by UC San Diego scientists.

But there's no need to worry: The amounts are nowhere near enough to cause health problems, researchers said.

Senior author Mark Thiemens and his team keep tabs on levels of sulfur-35 as part of their climate research. Readings collected shortly after the March 11 tsunami in Japan indicated that there were 1,500 atoms of sulfur-35 per square meter of air in La Jolla, a significant increase over normal levels.
The UCSD team interpreted the bump as the result of a reaction that would have occurred when plant workers used seawater to cool overheating reactors at Fukushima.  Neutrons from the reactor core would have reacted with chlorine in ocean water to create radioactive sulfur, Thiemens said.

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