Has the truth about radiation arriving on the California coast been muddled amidst mounting concern?
When the Japanese coastline where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant sits was pummeled with a massive tsunami and earthquake in March 2011, three of the site’s nuclear reactors melted down. Unprecedented quantities of radioactive materials—coolant, mostly—began seeping into the Pacific Ocean.
Almost three years later, that radioactive contamination is the source of widespread concern around the world, including in Santa Cruz County.
“The Fukushima disaster was just horrendous,” says Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz. “We’ve never had a nuclear accident before that released this amount [of radiation] into the sea.”