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Originally published January 22 2014

California schools to begin monitoring for Fukushima radiation 'arriving this year'

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Two prominent academic and research institutions in California are joining forces to conduct an in-depth study into how radiation from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility is affecting California's pristine kelp forests. According to a recent announcement by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the project will involve monitoring radioactive contaminants set to arrive later this year from Fukushima, further proof of the plant's continued release of radioactive materials.

Steven L. Manley, a professor of biology at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), and Kai Vetter, head of the Berkeley Lab's Applied Nuclear Physics department, will together lead a team of researchers from 19 academic and governmental institutions in tracking the extent of contamination by Fukushima radiation along the entire California coastline. From as far north as Del Norte to as far south as Baja California, the team will collect samples from the many kelp forests that stretch along the Pacific.

As it turns out, there are currently no published data on the levels of radiation present off the Pacific coast, and particularly in California's kelp forests. These forests serve not only as diverse biological communities for hundreds of species of marine life but also as a source of food and habitat for entire marine ecosystems. Without them, in other words, hordes of diversified sea creatures would quickly disappear.

"The California kelp forest is a highly productive and complex ecosystem and a valuable state resource," stated Manley in a recent statement about the project. "It is imperative that we monitor this coastal forest for any radioactive contaminants that will be arriving this year in the ocean currents from Fukushima disaster."

Public distrust of ocean safety following Fukushima prompts further inquiry into radiation levels

Known officially as "Kelp Watch 2014," the project was birthed out of concerns raised by both California natives and the many thousands of Golden State visitors that flock to the coastal state every year. Many individuals who are aware of the continued problems at the shuttered Fukushima plant are curious about the levels of radiation washing up along the California coast.

"I receive calls and emails weekly from concerned visitors and Californians about the effect of the Fukushima disaster on our California marine life," added Manley. "I tell them that the anticipated concentrations that will arrive are most likely very low but we have no data regarding its impact on our coastal ecosystem. Kelp Watch 2014 will provide an initial monitoring system at least in the short-term."

But governmental bodies at both the state and federal level are nowhere to be found in supporting this important project. According to a recently published announcement, the entire study is being funded by donations from its growing list of participants, which includes scientists, educational institutions and various other interested organizations.

"At the present time this entire initiative is unfunded by any state or federal agency, with time and costs being 'donated' by the participants," says Manley. "I hope that this changes. USC Sea Grant funded an earlier related study of mine and I hope it or some other funding agency will help fund this more extensive project."

Anyone interested in supporting Kelp Watch 2014, which will provide solid indicators of how Fukushima radiation is affecting the Pacific coast today, is encouraged to contact Manley at [email protected]. Be sure to put "Kelp Watch 2014" in the subject line.

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