An unprecedented level of radiation has emerged in the Pacific Ocean, threatening to contaminate the region’s fisheries and contaminate water supplies, according to scientists.
Iridium, a highly radioactive element, has been detected in the waters off the coast of California and Hawaii, the California Department of Water Resources said.
Irradiated fish have also been found near the site of a power plant in California, according the department.
The agency warned residents in affected areas not to consume fish or shellfish or to feed their pets, and urged anyone who had been exposed to the radiation to seek medical care.
“The radiation could be harmful to people and pets, especially if ingested,” the department said.
The agency has not identified the people or pets who have been exposed.
It is not clear what caused the contamination.
Officials say they expect the water in the affected areas to return to normal in a few days.