A joint study by France’s Climate and Environmental Science Laboratory and Japan’s Tsukuba University finds that people who escaped the initial fallout from reactor meltdowns in March 2011 could now find their food and water contaminated by the radioactive particles as typhoon runoff penetrates agricultural land and coastal plains.
The five typhoons that struck Japan during October alone were the most ever recorded during the month. Two other named storms struck the archipelago during September.
Earlier studies found that soil erosion from the tropical cyclones can move the radioactive isotopes cesium-134 and -137 from the mountains near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant into rivers and then out into the Pacific.
The latest research concludes that typhoons “strongly contribute” to soil dispersal, though it can be months later, after the winter snow melts, that nuclear contamination finally runs off into rivers.
Graphic: (Japan) Ministry of Science