SOUTHERN ALBERTA: A local wind researcher is adding to the assertion that nuclear fallout in Japan won't affect Canada.
Chris Hugenholtz is a wind science professor at the University of Lethbridge. Hugenholtz says though wind currents flow from that area straight through to Canada, the levels of radiation don't pose the same threat as other disasters that have blown remnants to Alberta, such as the volcanic eruptions overseas that blew ash to Southern Alberta, evidenced in the geological record.
"There are occasions when those ash particles can travel long distances," he says. "But usually it's much, much larger amounts than what I understand is happening in Japan."
Hugenholtz says materials such as the radiation emanating from nuclear reactors typically don't reach the level to spike into the earth's atmosphere and travel on wind currents. But even when it does get to a higher level, such as in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine), he says the areas most highly effected would be those in the immediate area.
"Even if it were much larger, I still suspect it would dissipate in the atmosphere. It would spread out - it's not going to hold together in a small little mass and travel over the ocean then drop out as nuclear fallout in one location. It will really diffuse. In Chernobyl, a lot of that radioactive material really dispersed globally," says Hugenholtz.
"We're at a distance that allows us to see it in a different light and not be as concerned as those in the immediate area. So for people in Southern Alberta I would suggest this is not something to be concerned about."