by Jeff Richardson
Dec 24, 2011
FAIRBANKS — With the status of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster officially downgraded to “cold shutdown” earlier this month, local scientists and public health officials say it appears Alaska has managed to escape any detectable radioactive fallout.
The Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and the resulting tsunami in March, was the worst nuclear disaster in the past quarter-century.
The Fukushima downgrade, which the Japanese government announced last Friday, doesn’t mean the damaged plant is cleaned up and decommissioned, only that it had reached a level where it could be considered stable. It could take as long as 40 years to fully decommission the plant, a process that will include developing robots to remove spent rods and molten fuel from the reactors.
Although fallout from the plant drifted over much of the Lower 48 in the weeks after the disaster, officials say Alaska was spared by beneficial weather patterns.
Clyde Pearce, a radiation inspector with the Alaska Division of Public Health, said the global jet stream after the March reactor accident consistently steered fallout south of Alaska. He said
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