"Currently, we do not know the extent to which some of these radionuclides have been bioaccumulated and passed up local food chains," said Fisher. "This is obviously of interest, since the principal concern about the dispersal of radionuclides in the ocean stems from the fact that they can potentially be toxic to marine organisms or even humans who consume seafood, and the potential for toxicity is dependent on the extent to which the radionuclides are bioconcentrated in marine organisms."
All of the collected samples will be analyzed using the most sensitive techniques and tools in the world, which will provide a more detailed picture of where radioactivity is and where it traveled, and to detect radiation above background levels, including radionuclides in marine organisms.
Sample analysis will be performed over several months, and the end product will be a set of concentration maps for many different radionuclides obtained independently by several groups allowing for inter-comparison of analytical methods.
In addition to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation-funded work, Buesseler is also conducting research funded by the National Science Foundation to analyze water samples from a network of stations where the ability to retrieve ocean water samples already exists.
"While early data will tell us about possible health impacts to humans and marine biota, follow-up work will be needed for years and decades to come before we are able to say with any certainty that we understand the fate of these radionuclides in the ocean and the effect they have had on the marine environment,"
|Contact: Stephanie Murphy|
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution