Wednesday, August 22 , 2018, 1:08 am | Fair 63º


Local News

Harmful Radiation from Japan’s Nuclear Plants Unlikely to Reach South Coast

Santa Barbara County officials say distance alone will be enough of a barrier

The South Coast is not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity stemming from nuclear power plants damaged after Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services said Monday.

There have been two explosions at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and according to reports, the fuel rods at reactor No. 2 were completely exposed, increasing the risk of a meltdown.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission works with other U.S. agencies to monitor radioactive releases and predict their path. Weather conditions have taken the small releases from the Fukushima reactors out to sea and away from the population, OES said in a news release.

“Given the thousands of miles between the two countries, Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity,” according to the OES news release.

Although it is possible for radiation to spread through means such as jet streams, too much distance separates Japan and the United States to have any tangible impact, said Takuya Yamamoto, a chemical engineering associate researcher at UCSB.

Yamamoto said he used to live in the Sendai region of Japan and has received e-mails from some friends but that others remain unaccounted for, he said. Fortunately, his family was away on vacation when disaster struck last week.

The crisis in Japan has spurred questions about local plant safety. The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo, owned by PG&E, employs a fully staffed seismic department to monitor seismic activity, according to Diablo Canyon spokesperson Kory Raftery.

“(Sendai) is one of the most active areas in world; the size and scope of the quake produced by that fault — 8.9 — is much larger than anything scientists believe could happen here,” Raftery said, adding that scientists predict the largest earthquake would be 6.0 to 6.5 in San Luis Obispo.

The fault that caused Sendai’s earthquake was a subduction zone, in comparison to San Luis Obispo’s strike-slip fault that doesn’t produce the magnitude of ground motion that Japan’s did, he added.

“Diablo Canyon has a strong operating history and is recognized as one of the safest plants,” Raftery said.

Click here for a live map that records the nation’s radiation levels and automatically updates every five minutes.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >