So Japan is releasing 11,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific, the same ocean we happen to enjoy right here in Southern California.
Should we be afraid? Should surfers cancel that planned weekend session? Will your bikini disintegrate in nuclear--tainted saltwater?
No way, says Luca Centurioni, a Scripps Institute of Oceanography physical oceanographer. In fact, the La Jolla-based academic tells the Weekly ...
... particles dumped into the ocean from the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant wouldn't reach Southern California until at least "1.8" years from now (yeah, that's how scientists speak).
Centurioni, in fact, says that reports of Japanese tsunami debris reaching the Pacific Northwest already don't make sense. "I don't think that's possible," he says.
"We've been looking into time scales -- how long does it take for a water particle to reach the West Coast from Japan," he says. "We're talking about anything between 1.8 to 3 years."
On top of that, he says the concentration of radioactive water would likely be diluted beyond any serious health concerns:
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"It's a long time," Centurioni said. "It will be washed over by waves several storms. I don't see a very big concern."
His main worries involve the Japanese coast, where radioactive water could present real problems for the food supply and fish resources that end up across the globe.
"The effect of this material entering the ocean environment and perhaps the food chain is a greater concern," he said.
So go ahead and surf.