The Far Reaches of Fukushima

by Inga Yandell

Radioactive isotopes from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have been detected in the great kelp forests off the California coast, according to a new study released by researchers at Cal State Long Beach. Following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, a wave of radioactivity traveled across the Pacific Ocean.

After the Fukushima incident last spring, Stephen Manley and Chris Lowe, biology professors at California State-Long Beach wondered how released radiation would affect giant kelp canopies, a keystone for the coastal ecosystem. What they found, low-levels of certain radioactive isotopes, seemed to have no impact on the kelp’s health, but their discovery adds anxiety for those who fear the ability for nuclear fallout to have long-ranging consequences.

Iodine 131 “has an eight-day half-life, so it’s pretty much all gone,” Manley told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But this shows what happens half a world away does effect what happens here. I don’t think these levels are harmful, but it’s better if we don’t have it at all.”

Source: Common Dreams

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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