News @ the Beach

No Ocean-Borne Radiation from Fukushima Detected in Kelp from Round 3 of Sampling for Kelp Watch 2015

A Cal State Long Beach scientist overseeing Kelp Watch 2015 announced today that measurements from Pt. Conception, Calif. to Tofino, British Columbia, show no signs of ocean-borne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, following analysis of the kelp collected from January through February 2015. The results of these latest analyses are available to the public at the Kelp Watch 2015 website (Third Sampling Period).

Kelp Watch 2015 is a collaborative effort led by Steven Manley, marine biology professor at CSULB, and Kai Vetter, head of applied nuclear physics at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to use coastal kelp beds as detectors of radioactive seawater arriving from Fukushima via the North Pacific Current.

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Professor Steven Manley securing kelp sample for analysis

“We have yet to see any indication of Fukushima radioisotopes in any kelp samples taken since the beginning of this campaign,” Manley said. “The signature radioisotope is Cesium-134 and we have yet to detect it. Recently, low levels of Cs-134 were detected in seawater collected from the east side of Vancouver Island on Feb. 11 by Dr. Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, however, the kelp we collected from Vancouver Island was done in January. Timing is everything, including the arrival time of Cs-134 and the exposure time of the kelp to the radioisotope.”

“Another radioisotope, Cs-137, has been detected in all kelp samples taken for this project,” he continued. “Although it is a component of the Fukushima radiation, it is also a remnant of the bomb testing of the ‘50s and ‘60s. We see it because it has a half-life of 30 years whereas Cs-134 has a half-life of two years. These results should reassure the public that our coastline is safe, and that we are monitoring it for these materials. The purposes of Kelp Watch are to keep the public informed and to document the amount of Fukushima radiation that enters our kelp forest ecosystem.”