Monitoring Local Radiation Levels and Arcata's Tsunami Response

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), “In response to nuclear emergencies, the NRC works with other U.S. agencies to monitor radioactive releases and predict their path.  All the available information continues to indicate Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.”  Also, the California Department of Public Health, “Californians are urged to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure. It is not necessary given the current circumstances in Japan, it can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems, and taken inappropriately it can have serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.” FAQs About Radiation

Visit the City of Arcata Emergency Preparedness Page

March 18, 2011 PRESS RELEASE from:

North Coast Unified Air Quality
Management District
2300 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka, CA 95501
Telephone (707) 443-3093 FAX (707) 443-3099

News Release
March 18, 2011

Many of us have heard news reports about high levels of radiation escaping from the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan following the recent earthquakes and tsunami. Concern has been expressed that potentially harmful levels of radiation could impact California after traveling across thousands of miles of ocean.

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (NCUAQMD), in cooperation with the USEPA, has been monitoring the levels of radiation in Humboldt County for several years. The monitoring data show that there is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure to the citizens of Humboldt, Del Norte or Trinity Counties. Medical professionals and air quality experts believe that there is little chance of high levels reaching the California Coast. However, the NCUAQMD will continue to monitor local radiation levels for any indication of increased levels.

Many people believe that taking potassium iodide tablets will help provide protection from any potential increased radiation. However, taking any medication without a need to, including potassium iodide, could be more harmful than helpful. It is strongly recommended that no one take any medication without first discussing it with your physician as there are potential side effects and the chance of toxicity.

For additional information please visit the following websites:

Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services

California Department of Public Health

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission

South Coast Air Quality Management District

United States Environmental Protection Agency


The City of Arcata was prepared for the March 11 tsunami alert and our citizens responded well (see APD Press Release). The event served as a serious reminder to all our citizens to learn about and be prepared for tsunami and other natural disasters. See the Arcata tsunami infomation and evacuation map.  For more information about disaster preparedness, contact the American Red Cross or see the Arcata Police Department's Emergency Preparedness webpage.   

City of Arcata Ready to Go!
Photo Courtesy of Zach St. George


City workers moved heavy equipment and generators needed for post-disaster cleanup to the 7th Street overpass in anticipation of the tsunami.

City of Arcata
March 12, 2011


On March 11, 2011 in the early morning hours, staff from the City of Arcata including police, public works and environmental services, evacuated several hundred residents within the tsunami inundation zones in the city.  Arcata City staff was assisted by Humboldt State University police officers and Arcata Fire District firefighters in the evacuation of the residential areas south of Samoa Boulevard, which included several apartment complexes and a senior residential complex.  The City opened the D Street Neighborhood Center as an evacuation point for those residents temporarily displaced from their homes. 
Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said, "I would like to express my deep appreciation to the citizens of Arcata who reacted quickly and seriously to the tsunami threat.  The public's response made the difficult job for city workers and public safety personnel more manageable."
In addition to evacuations and street closures, City personnel worked to move heavy equipment to staging areas in the event significant damaged occurred. Arcata officials activated their Emergency Operations Center in conjunction with the Humboldt County EOC. 
This event serves as a serious reminder of the dangers associated with the tsunami threat along the north coast.  All citizens should research and be prepared for tsunami and other natural disaster events.  Disaster preparedness information can be obtained from the American Red Cross or Arcata Police Department websites.