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USA: Fukushima radiation not detected in kelp beds yet

Biologist Steven Manley collects kelp samples for the first round of testing in the Kelp Watch 2014 project.
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A project to monitor radiation levels from the Fukushima nuclear leak in kelp beds on the West Coast has found no contamination in its initial testing.

“So far there’s no detectable amount of Fukushima radiation in any of the kelp samples that were looked at,” said biologist Steven Manley, who heads Kelp Watch 2014 at California State University at Long Beach.

The study kicked kicked off earlier this year when Manley teamed up with researchers from Alaska to Chile to collect samples from kelp beds up and down the West Coast and test them at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for radioactive isotopes like Cesium 134 and 137.

Kelp is particularly sensitive to changes in radiation levels because it soaks up the contamination like a sponge. Manley calls it a “sentinel” species that is found in abundance along the Pacific coast and is the basis for an entire ecosystem.
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