Seaside, Japan. Photo source: ©© Mrhayata
Twenty-five years ago, I was a Ph.D. student here in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, studying the fate of fallout in the North Atlantic from nuclear weapons testing, when an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear plant released large quantities of radioactive materials into the surrounding environment. My colleagues and I immediately joined other scientists tracking these radioactive contaminants, which in my case focused on the Black Sea, the closest ocean to the accident site.
A quarter-century later, I can still measure fallout from Chernobyl in the Black Sea, though fortunately at levels that are safe for swimming, consuming seafood and, if you could remove the salt, even drinking.
I never thought I’d see another release anywhere near the magnitude of Chernobyl…