Cold War-era nuclear weapons tests caused a 1,000-times higher cesium-137 concentration in the Kuroshio Current than wastewater leakage from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant following a March 2011 core meltdown, a Taiwanese study published last month in the Marine Pollution Bulletin showed.
The heavily radioactive particles were for the first time detected in the current at depths from 200m to 400m, said lead author Arthur Chen (陳鎮東), a research chair professor in National Sun Yat-sen University’s Department of Oceanography.
Chen, who last month became a fellow at the American Geophysical Union, conducted the research from 2018 to last year in collaboration with the Radiation Monitoring Center, National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Ocean University.
Photo provided by National Sun Yat-sen University
However, the study did not find any cesium-134 produced in the Fukushima disaster, while cesium-137, which has a longer half-life of 30.2 years, was found in concentrations below the level that can cause harm, he said.
Cesium from the core meltdown that was released into the Pacific Ocean was mostly transported by currents to waters off the US west coast, he said.
However, a small amount of cesium might have been captured by the Kuroshio Current, which flows to off Taiwan’s east coast and then back to the maritime environs of Japan, he said.
Cesium-137 was detected in samples taken from the current and it is speculated that the substance could appear off northeastern Taiwan, where waters from the deep sea rise to less than 20m below the surface, posing a contamination risk to algae and other maritime life, he said.
This means fish caught in these waters might contain a higher concentration of cesium-137, which might affect human health, he said.
The level of isotopic decay in the samples suggest that the vast majority of cesium residues found near Taiwan’s coast originates from 1958 to 1962, and not the nuclear disaster in Japan, he said.
The 1950s and early 1960s were a period of intense nuclear weapons tests by the US and the Soviet Union, he said.
The tests also offers an alternative explanation for the presence of tritium off Taiwan, as hydrogen bomb detonations can produce the element via fusion, he said.
GREATER NUMBER: The sorties might have been a response to the US and the EU expressing concern on Friday over China’s ‘provocations’ in the Taiwan Strait Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft and four naval ships were detected around Taiwan from 6am Saturday to 6am yesterday, including eight airplanes that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ were a Y-8 anti-submarine plane and a BZK-005 uncrewed aerial vehicle, the Ministry of National Defense said. The aircraft that flew across the median line include two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, four J-16 multipurpose fighters and two J-10 jets, the ministry’s official Web site showed. Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the
The building of a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) plant in Phoenix, Arizona, is expected to lead to the creation of a “Little Taipei” over the coming year, as TSMC employees and related companies move in, a Phoenix-based real-estate agent has said. TSMC is investing US$12 billion to build a wafer plant in northern Phoenix that is scheduled to begin mass production in 2024. The company on Tuesday held a “tool-in” ceremony to mark the installation of the first batch of equipment at the fab. Some TSMC employees have moved into newly constructed apartments in a community 10 minutes’ drive from the
The US Navy could use experimental “lightning carriers” in a possible conflict with China over Taiwan, Business Insider reported on Wednesday. The lightning carrier concept involves using converted amphibious assault ships (LHAs) carrying Lockheed Martin F-35B “Lightning II” stealth jets. It was tested last summer by the US Navy and US Marines Corps using the America-class warship USS Tripoli. US Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, the commander of the US Navy 7th Fleet, in October said that the concept is part of efforts to increase the firepower of the fleet’s ships, Business Insider reported. Thomas made the remarks during an event hosted by think
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy