Radiation testing begins on Haida Gwaii

Islanders began collecting seawater samples this month as part of a University of Victoria radioactivity monitoring program.

Islanders began collecting seawater samples this month as part of a University of Victoria radioactivity monitoring program that spans the B.C. coastline.

Sian Nalleweg and her daughter Megan Ives of Sandspit took their first sample from East Beach near Wiggins Road in Tlell on Nov. 8.

They’ve sent the sample to researchers working with the InFORM Network in Victoria, which aims to assess and communicate the environmental risks resulting from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactor accident.

The pair is among a core group of approximately 10 on-islands volunteers who will be taking water samples from two locations each month for the next three years, said associate professor and project researcher Jay Cullen.

Nalleweg said she and Megan heard about the project through the David Suzuki Foundation.

“The ocean is our backyard. We spend a lot of our time at the beach and we care about it a lot,” Nalleweg said.

“I’m curious to know about radiation myself and I knew we had some extra time and are capable, so we signed up.”

There are around 600 people province-wide who have volunteered to collect the 24 litre seawater samples from 14 different coastal locations.

Haida Gwaii could use more volunteers, said Cullen, and anyone interested can contact him through fukushimainform.ca.

“It would be great to get some local schools involved in testing. It would be a useful teaching opportunity and a good project for students,” he said.

Cullen said the results from this month’s radiation testing should be accessible online in about a month.

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