ST. PAUL (WCCO) — The impact of the badly damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is being felt in the Twin Cities. A slight increase of radiation levels were found in a rainwater sample taken in St. Paul.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency says the levels of radiation are well below levels that would trigger health concerns.
“EPA scientists routinely test precipitation samples from more than 30 sites in the U.S.,” said EPA spokesperson Phillippa Cannon. “That includes rain, snow, and sleet. Since the Japanese nuclear incident, EPA has accelerated that routine precipitation sampling.”
The EPA also found elevated levels of radiation in California and Idaho. Scientists were expecting to find some radioactive material since radiation is known to travel in the atmosphere.
“It depends on the actions and the directions of the jet stream as to whether or not you’ll receive any kind of numbers,” said Sue McClanahan, radiation specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
McClanahan’s department does regular radiation testing around the power plants in Monticello and Prairie Island. They also have a sampler setup on the roof of the Freeman Building in St. Paul, 20 feet away from the EPA’s sampling that detected the increase.
“All of the readings that we have gotten up to this date have been significantly lower than anything that we have to be concerned about,” said McClanahan. “One of the things about radiation no matter where it is or where it’s coming from, you can’t see it, smell it or feel it.”
The Minnesota Department of Health is closely monitoring their air samples with this latest news from the EPA. They’re in the process of testing last week’s air samples and hope to get the results later Monday.
The EPA says even though this is a small level of concern, they have decided to increase monitoring of precipitation, drinking water and other potential exposure routes.
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports