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Fukushima Radiation: None Detected Yet on California Coast

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Steven Manley a marine biology professor at California State University, Long Beach, is one of the founders of Kelp Watch 2014.

Steven Manley, a marine biology professor at California State University, Long Beach, is one of the founders of Kelp Watch 2014. (CSU Long Beach)

Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has not reached the California coastline, according to new results from tests on kelp. Scientists monitoring kelp forests on the West Coast announced the results on Wednesday.

Kelp forests in the ocean are like sponges. They suck up what’s in the water around them. So scientists with a project called Kelp Watch 2014 are testing kelp from Baja California up to Alaska for cesium-134, one of the radioactive isotopes from Fukushima.

And so far, says Kai Vetter, a nuclear scientist at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, there’s no cesium-134. He just got the results back from kelp collected in February and March.

“But the expectation is even if we find cesium or other isotopes that we can associate to Fukushima, the concentration we expect, again, will be extremely small,” he said.

In his tests, Vetter did find cesium-137, another radioactive isotope. That, he says, was left behind after atmospheric weapons tests. Scientists expect to eventually see cesium-137 from Fukushima, too, but that Cs-137 wouldn’t be here without the Cs-134, Vetter explained.

The Kelp Watch 2014 team will continue gathering kelp to test for radiation. In addition to being a public service, Vetter said, the study presents the possibility of learning more about ocean currents.

Vetter said once the radiation does get here, it will not pose a threat to people, plants or animals. Scientists expect the radiation to arrive sometime this spring or summer.

Vetter also posts air monitoring information on radiation from sensors in Berkeley. And the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has a program to test ocean water for Fukushima radiation.

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Category: Environment, News, Physics

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About the Author ()

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.
  • Barry

    I find this VERY hard to believe since its already been reported multiple times that radiation is being detected in both kelp and pacific ocean fish and other seafood! I recommend that anyone concerned about the pacific fish they have been eating to consider doing a radiation detox with the detox mineral called zeolite that has been proven and used to remove both radiation and heavy metals from the human body with great success! For more information on how this detox works do an online search for the single word Zeolite.

    • Bruce

      Apparently, dandelion is also a powerful heavy metal chelater – gets rid of heavy metals in the system. Worth looking into (also an effective liver cleanser, among other things).

      • Barry

        Yes I have heard about Dandelions being a detox. However Zeolite holds onto the heavy metals all the way out of the body without releasing any toxins back into the body as plant and clay detoxes do!

        • Bruce

          Thanks for that Barry. I actually have a bottle of Zeolite, but I haven’t used it yet. Dandelion is supposed to be the fourth most nutritious food in the world, but who knows.

          Cheers.

    • Mike O’Brien

      Where is this proof Borey? It sure isn’t on your website where you sell zeolite.
      And you do realize that radioactive material is ALWAYS in seafood and kelp. It has been there since the first kelp plant and the first sea creature millions of years ago.

  • Chernobyl Children Fukushima C

    Soil samples taken? Where? How deep? How often? How much? Beta Gamma Activity Monitors used? Range? Up to 20 Bq / Kg or 1,000,000 Bq per Kg? Phoswich used for Alpha? You can not talk about Atoms so simple. They know no borders. And Cesium 137 a Beta AND Gamma emitters, with a full biological decay time of over 300 years (= 10 Generations) is WATER SOLUBLE. Do not trust the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. They are basically paid by the Nuke Industry. Take Soil Samples and measure on your own. They media is irradiated to it’s head.

  • Kuro Neko

    wow the tuna of the coast is radioactive but nothing else is XD talk about cover up… there’s radiation from fukushima in Europe still they claim none in California, please. -_-

  • Bruce

    I’m afraid this story has done nothing else but set off the bullshit detectors with flashing red lights. Iodine-131 was detected in Burnaby, B.C. about a week after Fukushima blew. Plutonium has been detected on the West Coast. Why just test for Cs-137? What about the other known killers: Strontium-89 and 90 (bone-seekers), Cobalt-60, Americium-241, Uranium-235, Plutonium-239 and the hundreds of other highly-dangerous isotopes? Seals and starfish and whales are dying in huge numbers.

    Please don’t take us for fools. People are getting VERY angry about this kind of disinformation – it doesn’t serve anyone (except the psycopathic killers who benefit from it – Forbes.com being one of them).

    • Mike O’Brien

      And that I-131 all decayed away 2 years ago. Looks like you need to get yoru bullshit detector adjusted.

  • Gulf Disaster Relief

    this writer is SO full of crap! Hey I want to see Molly eat some kelp in a fresh-salmon roll. Seriously, if you actually the manure you are peddling, then post a picture of that!

  • A man with no name

    lies by our mainstream media liars.