North Carolina radiation levels after FukusimaThat is how an official with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources described the current situation.

State environmental health officials report that results from initial air monitoring for radioactive isotopes confirm that no threat to public health exists, and show similar levels to those reported late last week by the state’s nuclear power stations, related to fallout from fuel degradation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

Staff in the Division of Environmental Health’s Radiation Protection Section state that low levels of radioisotope Iodine-131 were reported in all of four air samples taken March 27-29.

“These results are consistent with what Duke Energy and Progress Energy reported to the state last week,” said Gerald Speight, environmental program consultant in the Radiation Protection Section. “What we are seeing in this situation is similar to what states across the country, including North Carolina, saw following the 1986 incident at the Chernobyl plant in Russia. Now, as it was then, these results indicate no risk to public health.”

The state will continue to monitor radiation levels in North Carolina and will work with its federal partners and the utilities to identify any changes related to the incident in Japan.

The state routinely monitors the air around all North Carolina fixed nuclear facilities 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, while analyzing samples weekly. Water, milk, fish, shellfish and vegetation are also routinely monitored around the state.

As a result of these recent reports, the state has transitioned to daily environmental sampling. Samples will be analyzed and compared to baseline data, which allows the staff to detect increases in radioisotopes in the environment.