European Project to Analyse the Effects of Waste Generated by Tourism on Mediterranean Islands

An European study involving the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma e Barcelona will address and propose solutions to the effects of the increase of waste generated by tourism on Mediterranean islands during the summer season.

El ICTA-UAB volverá Locos por la Naturaleza a 27 estudiantes de bachillerato

Un total de 27 estudiantes de bachillerato participan en la tercera edición del programa Locos por la Naturaleza que ofrece el Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) con la voluntad de promover el talento científico entre los jóvenes potenciando el conocimiento del medio natural y poniéndolos en contacto con los principales investigadores en la materia.

More Urban Green Needed in Barcelona to Have Positive Effects on Environmental Quality and Wellness

A PhD dissertation by Francesc Baró, from ICTA-UAB, quantifies and maps the benefits of urban and periurban green in Barcelona such as the improvement of air quality, climate change mitigation and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.

Social Relations, Success in Hunting and Good Health, Sources of Happiness for Indigenous People

Rural and indigenous people from the Global South push absolute income into the background as source of wellbeing.

Treatment plants reduce contamination of heavy metals around Barcelona's coastline

The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, shows that contamination of heavy metals experienced a very important growth between the 1930s and 1980s, while a drastic descent in levels occurred in the 1990s.

Increase in motorcycles converts Barcelona into the European city with the highest number of motorbikes per inhabitant

A study by researchers of the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Geography assesses the rise of motorcycles compared with the drop in cars in Barcelona in the past ten years.

Empowerment of women will improve our ability to cope with global change

Ending perceptions of women and other disadvantaged groups simply as victims and instead empowering them as decision-makers in natural resource management are basic steps to deal with ecological crises more effectively.

More than One-Third of the Population Would Stop Economic Growth to Achieve Sustainability

A study by researchers of the Institut of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) assesses Spanish public opinion on economic growth, the environment and prosperity.

ICTA-UAB and ISGlobal Researchers Denounce Lack of Studies on the Harmful Health Effects of Oil Spills

A project led by ICTA-UAB, ISGlobal and the UAB Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in the Peruvian Amazon analyses the health effects of oil spills among people living close to oil extraction areas in developing countries.

Coastal Occupation Affects Tropical Reefs in Brazil

Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and the Federal University of South of Bahia (UFSB) in Brazil warn of the negative environmental impacts of unplanned coastal occupation on tropical reefs and consequently on the conservation of marine biodiversity.

Humans have caused climate change for 180 years

An international research project involving ICTA-UAB researcher P. Graham Mortyn has found human activity has been causing global warming for almost two centuries, proving human-induced climate change is not just a 20th century phenomenon.

Do Greener Cities Become More Unjust?

A new research project led by ICTA-UAB researcher Isabelle Anguelovski and funded by the European Union will assess the “green gentrification” process by which the creation of green urban amenities tends to attract the higher social classes and excludes the most vulnerable groups.

Ocean Warming and Acidification Impact on Calcareous Phytoplankton

Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), the University of Cambridge and the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom warn of the negative impacts of rapid ocean warming and ocean acidification on coccolithophores.

Fukushima and the oceans: what do we know, 5 years on?

A major international review of the state of the oceans 5 years after the Fukushima disaster shows that radiation levels are decreasing rapidly except in the harbour area close to the nuclear plant itself where ongoing releases remain a concern.

The ICTA-UAB Will Assess, in Collaboration with EU Staff, the Effectiveness of EU Sustainability Policies

The EU Project MAGIC (H2020) coordinated by the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has the goal to study and develop new strategies for a better use of science for governance.

Importance of Saharan dust and climate change effects under study

ICREA researcher Antoni Rosell, from ICTA-UAB, participates in an international research which analyses the processes of transport and deposition of Saharan dust and African fires.

What If Solar Energy Becomes Really Cheap? A Thought Experiment on 'Environmental Problem Shifting'

A study on the development of future energy has shown the need to consider the ultimate consequences of these.

ICTA-UAB receives María de Maeztu Excellence Award

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology has received the award as a "María de Maeztu" Unit of Excellence 2015 from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO).
News
Fukushima and the oceans: what do we know, 5 years on?

Date: 2016-07-01

A major international review of the state of the oceans 5 years after the Fukushima disaster shows that radiation levels are decreasing rapidly except in the harbour area close to the nuclear plant itself where ongoing releases remain a concern. At the same time, the review’s lead author expresses concern at the lack of ongoing support to continue the radiation assessment, which he says is vital to understand how the risks are changing.

These are the conclusions of a major 5 year review, with multi-international authors who are all working together as part of a Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Working Group http://www.whoi.edu/CMER/rio5-working-group. The report is being presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Japan. The review paper is also published in Annual Review of Marine Science*. The main points made by the report are:

The accident
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 led to the loss of power and overheating at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (FDNPP), causing extensive releases of radioactive gases, volatiles and liquids, in particularly to the coastal ocean. The radioactive fall-out on land is well-documented, but the distribution of radioactivity in the seas and onto the wider oceans is much more difficult to quantify, due to variability in the ocean currents and greater difficulty in sampling.

Initial release of radioactive material
Although the FDNPP accident was one of the largest nuclear accidents and unprecedented for the ocean, the amount of 137Cs released was around 1/50th of that released by the fall out of nuclear weapons and 1/5th that released at Chernobyl. It is similar in magnitude to the intentional discharges of 137Cs from the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant Sellafield.

Initial fallout
The main release of radioactive material was the initial venting to the atmosphere. Models suggest that around 80% of the fallout fell on the ocean, the majority close to the FDNPP. There was some runoff from the land, peaking around 6 April 2011. There is a range of estimates of the total amount of 137Cs release into the ocean, with estimates clustering around 15-25 PBq (PetaBecquerel, which is 1015 Becquerel. One Becquerel is one nuclear decay per second). Other radioisotopes were also released, but the focus has been on radioactive forms of Cs given their longer half-lives for radioactive decay (134Cs = 2 yrs; 137Cs = 30 yrs) and high abundance in the FDNPP source.

Distribution in water
 Cs is very soluble, so it was rapidly dispersed in the ocean. Prevailing sea currents meant that some areas received more fall-out than others due to ocean mixing processes. At its peak in 2011, the 137Cs signal right at the FDNPP was tens of millions of times higher than prior to the accident.  Over time, and with distance from Japan, levels decrease significantly. By 2014 the 137Cs signal 2000km North of Hawaii was equivalent to around six times that remaining from fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests from the 1960’s, and about 2-3 times higher than prior fallout levels along the west coast of N. America. Most of the fallout is concentrated in the top few hundred metres of the sea. It is likely that maximum radiation levels will be attained off the North American coast in the 2015-16 period, before declining to 1-2 Bq per cubic metre (around the level associated with background nuclear weapon testing) by 2020. Sea-floor sediments contain less than 1% of the 137Cs released by the FDNPP, although the sea-floor contamination is still high close to the FDNPP.  The redistribution of sediments by bottom-feeding organisms (more common near the coast) and storms is complex.

Uptake by marine life
In 2011, around half the fish samples in coastal waters off Fukushima had radiocesium levels above the Japanese 100Bq/kg limit, but by 2015 this had dropped to less than 1% above the limit. High levels are still found in fish around the FDNPP port. High levels of 131I were measured in fish in April 2011, but as this has a short radioactive half-life, it is now below detection levels. Generally, with the exception of species close to the FDNPP, there seem to be little long-term measurable effects on marine life.

Risk to Humans
The radiation risk to human life is comparatively modest in comparison to the 15,000 lives were lost as a result to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. So far, there have been no direct radiation deaths. The most exposed FDNPP evacuees received a total dose of 70 mSv, which (if they are representative of the general population) would increase their lifetime fatal cancer risk from 24% to 24.4%. However, there are still over 100,000 evacuees from the Fukushima area, and many industries such as fishing and tourism have been badly hit.

Paper reference
Buesseler, K.O., Dai, M., Aoyama, M., Benitez-Nelson, C., Charmasson, S., Higley, K., Maderich, V., Masque, P., Oughton, D. and Smith, J.N. 2017. Fukushima Daiichi-derived radionucleidos in the ocean: transporte, fate, and impacts. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 9: In press. doi: 10.1146 / annurev-marine-010816 a 060733

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060733

 

 

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