Malibu Kelp To Be Tested For Radiation


    Researchers will be testing the Malibu kelp for radiation sometime between February 24th to March 5th. This testing is coming in light of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place March 11, 2011. A site off of Escondido north of Malibu point and a site right at the county line on the other side of Point Dume are the two locations selected for testing in the Malibu area. Peggy Fong from UCLA is heading up the team for Malibu.

    Steven Manley, a professor at Long Beach State University, along with his colleagues have taken it upon themselves to find any hints of radioactive activity in locations along the California coast. “We want as many coastlines down California covered,” he said.

    15 pounds of kelp will be collected at each location for testing. Manley notes that he’s “pretty sure” there going to see something, however, he anticipates a very low amount because the radiation most likely has been diluted. Also experts have stated that the radiation poses no danger for the West Coast. The more people help collect kelp the better but Manley expects the collection only to take about an hour at each spot. One of the main reasons for the study is to “let the public know what’s there,” he said.

    However, this is not any ordinary kelp being tested. Found up and down the coast, these canopy-forming kelps act like sponges and absorb most of what’s in the water. “Whatever is in the sea water will be magnified in the kelp,” Manley said. The kelp basically serves as a natural dosimeter, which means it measures an absorbed dose of radiation.

    Almost three years ago, the earthquake occurred and triggered a tsunami, which struck the pacific coast of Tōhoku. Also known as the Great Sendai Earthquake, the disaster had casualties of around 20,000 while also decimating properties.  Naturally after the earthquake, aftershocks began to take place. One of those aftershocks occurred at the Fukushima Daiici power plant, which is north of Sendai.

    Known as the second worst nuclear accident in the history of nuclear power generation, citizens around the world began to have anxiety while the confidence in nuclear power fell. In the United States, support for the building of nuclear power plants dropped a considerable amount. It also rose awareness for the United States to address any possible issues that could arise regarding an incident like Fukushima.

    Consequently, Japanese officials took fire for the handling of the emergency and would later admit to having low standards along with poor overseeing of the situation. Some plant operators also admitted that they were not prepared for an accident of this magnitude. Since the aftershock at the plant, debates have been going on about keeping the rest of the plants in Japan running and if they are even worth having considering the risks involved. In fact, the support from Japanese citizens for the plants have dropped significantly while plans could be made to completely be rid of nuclear power in Japan.

    Professor Manley has been getting calls from various surfers and beach goers asking if it’s safe to swim and surf. “I’m really interested to see what this research finds,” a local said. One surfer knew about the situation but won’t let it affect his time in the ocean. “This is not a good development but we will still go strong as surfers.”