Japan Earthquake 2011

Posted Thursday, March 12, 2020

Following the nuclear power plant emergency in Japan, the Washington State Department of Health began collecting and testing rainwater for the presence of radioactive materials. The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 damaged the reactors and caused radioactive iodine (iodine 131) to be released to the air.

Skagit PUD has received inquiries from customers about the potential risk of I-131 in its water supply. Our water originates in the Cultus Mountain watershed area east of Clear Lake. Water from this area is piped to Judy Reservoir, where it covers 148 surface acres and stores approximately 1.5 billion gallons of water.

Since the earthquake, State health department testing showed very low levels of I-131 in rainwater, as expected. The amounts detected are far below any public health concern. Iodine levels have decreased sharply and are expected to drop below detection limits in the next few weeks. (See DOH News Release April 7, 2011). The Department of Health testing for the material in air, rainwater, and milk shows no public health risk.

Skagit PUD continues to meet all Federal and State compliance sampling requirements. At this time, there are no recommendations or requirements for additional or emergency sampling.

We are in ongoing communication with our Federal and State regulatory bodies for any updated sampling recommendations and/or requirements.

For health questions about the Japan earthquake 2011 and what it means for Washington residents, please visit the Washington State Department of Health Web site: http://www.doh.wa.gov/topics/japan-faq.htm