Fukushima Dai-ichi — a view from two sides of the Pacific

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19:30 (Doors open at 19:00)
  • Ken O. Buesseler (Senior Scientist, Department of Maine Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
  • Azby Brown (member of SAFECAST and Director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo)
Mita Hall, Temple University, Japan Campus
Kyle Cleveland (ICAS Associate Director)
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The triple disaster of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent radiation releases at Fukushima Dai-ichi were unprecedented events for the ocean and society. Although levels of cesium in the ocean and being released from Fukushima nuclear power plants four and one half years later are more than a thousand times lower than in 2011, other isotopes such as strontium-90 are becoming of greater concern as they are elevated relative to cesium in the groundwater and storage tanks at the reactor site. Across the Pacific, ocean currents carrying Fukushima cesium are predicted to be detectable along the west coast of North America by 2015, and though models suggest at levels below those considered of human health concern, measurements are needed.  A report will be given on Our Radioactive Ocean (, a citizen scientist effort launched to monitor the arrival of Fukushima cesium along the North American west coast.  We will also introduce new efforts to engage the public in monitoring ocean radioactivity using the “RadBand”, a wearable device designed to sample for cesium isotopes while swimming.  The RadBand will be worn during a cross-Pacific swim by Ben Lecomte as part of his Longest Swim effort which is starting later this year.


Ken O. Buesseler

Senior Scientist, Department of Maine Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dr. Buesseler is a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who specializes in the study of natural and man-made radionuclides in the ocean.  His work includes studies of fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, assessments of Chernobyl impacts on the Black Sea, and examination of radionuclide contaminants in the Pacific resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants.

Dr. Buesseler has served as Chair of the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department at WHOI, as Executive Scientist of the US Joint Global Ocean Fluxes Planning and Data Management Office and two years as an Associate Program Director at the US National Science Foundation, Chemical Oceanography Program.  In 2009 he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and in 2011 he was noted as the top cited ocean scientist by the Times Higher Education for the decade 2000-2010.   He was honored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science with their highest level Fellowship award “Short term S” for “overseas researchers, who are Nobel laureates or recipients of similarly high level international prizes with exceptionally outstanding records of research achievements and who currently occupy a leading position in their subject field”.

He is currently Director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity at WHOI, and regularly speaks to public audiences and engages citizens as part of Our Radioactive Ocean.  More info at his Café Thorium web site

Azby Brown

member of SAFECAST and Director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo

Azby Brown is a member of SAFECAST, who concentrates on collating and summarizing research findings concerning health, the environment, and social issues related to the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In this role he has initiated ongoing dialogues and information-sharing with experts such as Dr. Buessler. In his day job, Azby is the director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo.

SAFECAST (, is a non-partisan, non-profit, volunteer-based organization created in the days immediately following the events of March 11, 2011. The group has become one of the most prominent and reliable independent sources for radiation data in Japan and abroad, and a leading example of the potential for citizen science to tackle even difficult technical problems. The SAFECAST data-collection system allows GPS-tagged radiation data points to be uploaded into a central database and displayed on an interactive web-based map. All of the group’s hardware ad software is developed by volunteers and is made freely available through open source licenses. The radiation data gathered by SAFECAST volunteers in Japan and abroad currently exceeds 35 million data points, arguably the most extensive public data set of its kind.