Radioactive Traces from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Found in California Wine

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Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, radioactive waste leaked into surrounding areas and contaminated waters and food. Seven years later, traces of the disaster were found half a world away — in California’s wine.

A group of French nuclear physicists tested 18 bottles of California’s rosé and cabernet sauvignon produced in 2009 and onward and found that the wines produced after the disaster had increased levels of a man-made radioactive particle. Cabernet sauvignon, for example, had double the amount. [Tracking Japan’s Tsunami Debris (Infographic)]

They reported their findings in the pre-print online journal Arxiv.

The researchers used two methods to look for traces of a radioactive isotope called cesium-137. The first method was developed about 20 years ago and could detect the particles through the wine bottle, without destroying or opening it. Since the presence of cesium-137 prior to 1952 is impossible (it’s a man-made isotope first released into the surroundings by nuclear testing in the mid-20th century), it has proven quite effective for detecting fraud in old vintage wines, according to the study.

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