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Radioactive particles found in California kelp

Radioactive particles from the nuclear incident in Fukushima, Japan after last year’s earthquake have been found in kelp along the California coast, according to a recent study conducted by marine biology professors at California State University, Long Beach. The findings were published in an article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Researchers found radioactive iodine in kelp samples from various locations along the California coast from Laguna Beach to Santa Cruz about a month after the nuclear disaster.

The levels of radiation in the kelp are probably not harmful to humans, the study said.

“We measured significant, although most likely non-harmful levels of radioactive iodine in tissue of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera,” biology professor Steven L. Manley said in a CSU-LB press release. “Although it is probably not harmful for humans because it was relatively low levels, it may have affected certain fish that graze on the tissue because fish have a thyroid system that utilizes iodine.”

According to the study, rainstorms contributed to bringing the airborne contaminants into the ocean.

The researchers said they conducted the study as a follow-up to a 1980s study of radiation contamination from Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster conducted at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. That study was the first to detect radioactivity from a reactor leak (Chernobyl) in seaweed.

It is unclear, however, what the long-term effects of the findings will be.

“Radioactivity is taken up by the kelp and anything that feeds on the kelp will be exposed to this also,” Manley said. “It’s not a good thing, but whether it actually has a measureable detrimental effect is beyond my expertise.”

Malibu local to skydive into North Pole for world record

Malibu resident Johnny Strange is set to skydive from a helicopter 5,000 feet above the North Pole April 12 to break the world record for the youngest person to complete the Adventurer’s Grand Slam-reaching the North Pole, South Pole and the seven tallest summits in the world-at 20 years old.

“I love adventure and I love action-sports,” Strange said in a statement. “I’m a college student, and only have a limited amount of time to do these things before I step into the real world. I have to make the best out of what little time I have, and breaking this record is something I have been working toward for the past eight years.”

Once he lands, Strange plans to plant flags saying “Stop Genocide” and “Cure Parkinson’s” on the North Pole, something he also did at the South Pole and the top of Mt. Everest, to raise awareness of the two causes.

Strange began his career in action sports when he climbed Mt. Vinson, the tallest mountain in Antarctica, when he was 12. At 17, he climbed the seven tallest summits in the world.

California could see more extreme weather, agency says

The group Environment California released a report this week saying the state could experience extreme weather conditions in the future based on recent weather statistics. The report cites carbon pollution and global warming for the weather disasters of the past few years and the possibility of more occurring in the future.

According to the group, Los Angeles County has experienced four weather-related disasters since 2006-two fires, a severe storm and freezing conditions-and such incidents could increase. The report, “In the Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather, and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States,” projects California would experience a 12 to 53 percent increase in the probability of large fires by the 2070-2099 time period based on several climate scenarios.

For more information, or to view the full report, visit environmentcalifornia.org.

City screens emotional DUI film

The City of Malibu is hosting a screening of “Every 15 Minutes” to raise awareness about public safety on Malibu’s roads, at City Hall April 24 at 7 p.m.

“Every 15 Minutes” is designed to educate teenagers about the potentially dangerous consequences of drunk driving and texting while driving. The program gets its name from the statistic that every 15 minutes someone between the ages of 16 and 20 is killed in the United States in an alcohol-related crash.

“It is imperative to educate and remind all Malibu residents, especially our youth, that one person’s decision to drive while texting or under the influence of alcohol can not only harm him or her, but also devastate the entire community,” Malibu Mayor Laura Rosenthal said. “The city is proud to offer this screening with the hope that it will help prevent future catastrophes.”

“Every 15 Minutes” was performed during a two-day period at Malibu High School early last month. The screening is a comprehensive video of the event, in which real MHS students acted in a fake car crash. Local students who participated in the program will answer questions after the viewing.

The funding for “Every 15 Minutes” was provided by the Malibu High School PTSA, The Shark Fund, California Highway Patrol and the City of Malibu. This was the second time the program took place in Malibu. The first one was put on in 2009.

Sheriff’s department conducts distracted driving awareness campaign

As a part of the state’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station is enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy with drivers texting or talking on hand-held cell phones through April 18, according to a release from the sheriff’s station. The current minimum ticket cost is $159, with subsequent tickets costing at least $279.

“We take the issue of distracted driving very seriously,” Malibu/Lost Hills Captain Joseph H. Stephen said. “Cell phone use and texting while driving is such a serious concern that we are putting officers on the road to enforce zero tolerance. Is that text message or cell phone call really worth $159?”

According to the release, law enforcement officers across the state have been increasingly cracking down on texting or talking on cell phones while driving. This month, more than 225 local agencies and the California Highway Patrol will be conducting “zero tolerance” enforcements.