Moore Foundation grantees at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) are studying sediment samples from the seafloor off coastal Japan to understand the fate of contaminants from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist and marine chemist at WHOI, and colleagues found a small fraction--about one percent--of contaminated seafloor sediments off Fukushima are moved offshore by typhoons that resuspend radioactive particles in the water.

The researchers analyzed these particles and found they contained cesium-134 and cesium-137. These radionuclides could only have come from the power plant, the researchers said.

'That's what may be contributing to elevated levels of cesium in fish—particularly bottom-dwelling fish off Japan," Buesseler said.

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