Fukushima's Effects on the World's Oceans


The Fukushima nuclear disaster not only did damage to the land around the reactor but also contaminated much of the ocean waters nearby. The accident released the largest amounts of radioactivity into the oceans ever recorded. Only the nuclear tests of the 1950s and 60s had a higher level of radioactivity than the Fukushima accident.

Although the Japanese people still feel the devastating effects that the Fukushima catastrophe had on them, most of the radioactivity that escaped from the power plant blew towards the oceans.



Luckily, the Kuroshio Current, a stream of warm water, quickly took the poisoned water away from the Japanese coast and carried it to deeper areas of the ocean. This stream of water is predicted to reach the coast of California some time between 2013 and 2014. Scientists, however, say that the radioactivity contained is nothing to worry about.

Nuclear experts examining radioactivity in coastal waters say that the level of contamination is far below what is considered to be dangerous to health. This level is not high enough to endanger fish and other sea animals in the area.

Japanese authorities, however, are being careful. They have lowered the limits of radioactivity that are allowed in food and drinking water. Radioactivity in fish is down to one tenths the rate that the US allows.


But there still are concerns. Sediments on the bottom of the ocean floor are gathering radioactive material. Fish and sea animals living in deeper waters are probably more contaminated than those living in surface areas. And many scientists are worried about the long term effects that the disaster might have on the world’s oceans.





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  • although = while
  • authority = people who are in a high position and make decisions
  • coastal = near land
  • concern = worry
  • considered = thought
  • contaminate =poison , to make something dirty and unusable
  • current = water that moves from one part of the sea or river to another
  • devastating = shocking, badly damaging
  • disaster = catastrophe, tragedy
  • effect = change, result
  • endanger = put in danger
  • escape = to get away from
  • examine = look at, study
  • gather = collect
  • however = but
  • limit = level
  • long term = in many years and decades
  • nuclear = energy produced by splitting atoms
  • poison = to have dirty and unusable material in something
  • predict = to say that something will happen
  • radioactivity = a form of energy that is produced when you split atoms
  • rate = amount
  • record = write down information
  • release = set free
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a laboratory
  • sediment = solid material that falls down to the bottom of the ocean
  • stream = flow
  • surface = the top layer of something