LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The West Coast shoreline shows no signs of ocean-borne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, scientists said Wednesday.
KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports researchers from CSU Long Beach and other schools are sampling kelp along the California coastline to determine whether seawater arriving from Japan poses any public health threat.
The Kelp Watch 2014 project – which is co-headed by Dr. Steven Manley, marine biology professor at Long Beach State – has gathered kelp samples from as far north as Kodiak Island, Alaska, to as far south as Baja California to determine the extent of possible radiation contamination from the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.
During the first phase of the project, samples were primarily collected from Feb. 24 through March 14 at 38 of the 44 sites originally identified by researchers for testing of cesium-137 and -134 isotopes, according to researchers.
“So far, it appears that, based on our analysis of kelp, that none of the Fukushima radiation has arrived via the ocean current to our shoreline,” Manley said.
Two sites in the tropics – Hawaii and Guam, where non-kelp brown algae were sampled — were also negative for Fukushima radiation, according to researchers.
Manley noted that the project also has giant kelp from off the coast of Chile in South America that serves as a reference site, far removed from any potential influence from Fukushima.
The study somewhat contradicted earlier findings from a 2012 Long Beach State study that found low levels of radioactive isotopes in seaweed found along the southern Pacific Coast.
While the project’s participants are primarily from academia who have agreed to work pro bono, donors with the USC-Sea Grant and California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) have agreed to contribute funds to the project, researchers said.
The second of the three 2014 sampling periods is scheduled to begin in early July.