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University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen said Monday that it's the first time radiation has been found on the shorelines of North America since the quake and tsunami ravaged the Japanese north coast and disabled the nuclear reactor.
Low levels of the radioactive isotope Cesium-134, which scientists say can only come from Fukushima, were found in waters collected on Feb. 19 off a dock at Ucluelet, British Columbia, about 195 miles west of Victoria, Cullen said.
He said the arrival of radioactive water on North American shores from Japan was expected this year. The distance from Japan to Ucluelet is more than 4,700 miles.
"The levels we are seeing are so low that we don't expect there to be impacts on the health of either the marine environment or people living along the coast," Cullen said.
"We're more than a thousand-fold below even the drinking water standard in the coastal waters being sampled at this point. Those levels are much, much, much lower than what's allowable in our drinking water."
Cullen said in a statement that if a person swam for six hours each day in water with Cesium levels twice as high as those found in Ucluelet, they'd receive a radiation dose that is more than 1,000 times less than that of a single dental X-ray.