Citizen Monitoring of Seawater Radiation on the Sonoma Coast


March 8, 2018

Contact: Linda Speel, Peace Roots Alliance (

John Bertucci, Fukushima Response (

Citizen scientists in Sonoma County have detected Cesium-137 in the seawater at Bodega Head that appears to originate from Fukushima Daiichi. The seawater sample, taken in October, 2017, registered 6.9 Becquerels of Cesium-137 per cubic meter of seawater (6.9 Bq 137Cs/m3). (Bq/m3 is the number of decay events per second per 260 gallons of water.) This is the highest level of 137Cs observed on the Pacific Coast since the nuclear accident in March, 2011. However, the levels are still barely detectable and are much lower than they were in the 1960s when nuclear weapons were tested in the atmosphere.

A group of Sonoma County nonprofit groups and private citizens have banded together to monitor radiation levels on our coast, and have been working with Woods Hole Research Institute (WHOI), International Medcom, Safecast and others to collect and process data, build scientific credibility into the program, and to share the data. The local nonprofits are Peace Roots Alliance, Fukushima Response and Whalesong Project.

For each sample, volunteers collect five gallons of seawater from the beach at Bodega Head and ship it to WHOI in Massachusetts for analysis with a multi-channel analyzer. Other high samples in the Woods Hole data set are from Eureka, CA, which had 6.2 Bq 137Cs/m3 and from the Big Island of Hawaii with 4.6 Bq 137Cs/m3. Readings are online:

In Sonoma County, International Medcom has also installed a radiation sensor in fresh ocean water at the U. C. Davis Bodega Marine Lab to provide continuous real-time data. That sensor data is routed to Safecast’s real-time sensor network and can be viewed online ( Safecast, a nonprofit organization formed after Fukushima to make radiation data freely available worldwide, is affiliated with MIT Media Lab and Japan’s Keio University.

The sensor at the Bodega Marine Lab is not sensitive enough to detect the subtle increase in radiation that has occurred to date, which is why we’ve been sending seawater samples to WHOI.

Each seawater sample costs $550.00 to process. With joint fundraising efforts, Peace Roots Alliance, Fukushima Response and generous donors have been paying for these samples to be tested. We’d like to continue to take these samples so we can establish a baseline record and we need the public’s help in funding it. You can make a donation for this project here:

When the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011, nuclear power stations along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture experienced loss of coolant that resulted in three reactor meltdowns over the ensuing days. Since those events, great effort has been expended to keep the reactors cool and to lay the groundwork for decommissioning them in a process that will span decades. Although progress is being made, radioactive water from the nuclear sites continues to flow into the Pacific Ocean, and there are proposals in place to dump radioactive water that has been stored onsite into the ocean. This situation has raised concerns in Japan and Asia, and in distant coastal communities connected by ocean currents along the entire Pacific Rim, including Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii.

You can learn more about Fukushima Response at: or

Peace Roots Alliance ( works with a number of groups to promote peace. We have been collecting seawater samples from Bodega Head, CA for five years through WHOI.

Whalesong Project ( is dedicated to inspiring stewardship of the ocean and environment by providing meaningful connections to the world’s undersea community

Collecting Water Samples at Bodega Head

As part of an effort to establish a baseline for radiation levels in the ocean off the coast of northern California, we have been collecting water samples at Bodega Head for several years. This week Gary and Linda Hlady joined Richard and Linda Speel to collect five gallons of sea water that we send to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where Ken Buesseler performs the analysis and publishes the results at

You can support this project by visiting Woods Hole’s Bodega Head page.

Letter from Michael O’Gorman

I spent much of my life working on the US/Mexican border. Twenty years ago this month I would spend my mornings growing lettuce in Yuma, Arizona, my afternoons farming cherry tomatoes right over the border in San Luis Rio Colorado and my evenings back in Yuma, repacking tomatoes that came up each day from our farm in Sinaloa.

Feeding America its vegetables was a joint venture between two nations and two people. This picture here was a few years earlier in El Centro, California. That year one of the fields I farmed in Holtville was literally on the south side of the border. The fence, which was there at the time, took a detour around it, with both sides agreeing it should stay in the hands of the American family that farmed it with the help of his Mexican workers.

For years my workers in Salinas Valley and the Central Valley would travel freely home each year after the harvest was done, eager to get back to the family, the pueblo and the weeks of holiday festivities. If they finished the year in good standing they went home wearing a nice company jacket and a letter from me saying there was a job waiting for them when they came back in the spring. Over time, things changed. It became so costly and dangerous to cross the border that those on this side stopped going home. Men with wives and young children in Mexico drifted away and found new women and lives here.

Then there was the time around 1999, when I was farming full-time in Mexico, and a woman literally threw herself at me, begging that I keep her husband employed all winter or he would have to go north and leave her and their six young children. As much as I tried, I could not employ everyone who needed it. She came back a month later, asking if I could pay to bring home his body; he had died on the long trek through the desert.

I am not writing here to argue, or start an argument, about immigration or building a wall. I would have to write a much longer piece than this to explain just some of its complexities. But I do know that the people from Mexico that worked for me on both sides of the border were the kindest, noblest, hardest working people one could ever meet and none of us would have what we have on our plates tonight without them.

Michael O’Gorman
January 25, 2017

SOA Watch to Converge on the U.S. Mexico Border from October 7-10, 2016

Farms Not Arms is endorsing the SOA Watch Convergence at the Border and we encourage you to join the October 7-10 vigils, protests and workshops at the Eloy Detention Center, in Tucson, and in Nogales, Arizona/ Sonora at the border wall. Visit the convergence webpage for more information: 
It is important that we have a strong showing of activists from throughout the U.S. and Mexico in the lead-up to the November elections. We are going to take a stand for justice and demand fundamental change in US policies that goes beyond elections. Come out and amplify the demands of the convergence:

  • An end to the destructive U.S. military, economic, and political interventions in the Americas.
  • De-militarization of the borders. We need to build bridges with our neighbors, not walls.
  • The dismantling of the racist and sexist systems that steal from, criminalize, and kill migrants, refugees, natives, gender non-conforming people, communities of color, and others throughout the hemisphere.
  • Respect, dignity, justice and self-determination for all communities, especially the poor and most vulnerable
  • No more profits over people! Private military, prison, oil, mining, and other corporations should not determine our future or that of the earth, the people should.

For the full schedule of October 7-10 events, visit

Win a Geiger Counter!

Fukushima Response

Win an Inspector Alert ?
& help fund a regional monitoring project ?
win-win either way !

Print out the pdf Flyer for full details here:–Final.pdf

It’s easy to enter by mail (sorry, no online option) pdf Flyer comes with plenty of tickets…

Fukushima Response Treasurer Jude Mion will enter your mailed in tickets – as many as you fill out & send us – when your check is received

Winner will be notified immediately – pls write your contact info clearly…

Drawing in Petaluma on November 10th will be video recorded & fb posted here:


Learn – Measure – Avoid the invisible dragon… including Dai-ichi