Scientists Testing Kelp For Radiation From Japan - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Scientists Testing Kelp For Radiation From Japan

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LONG BEACH, Calif. - About a mile and a half off the Long Beach coast may lie the answer to what scientists projected back in September: that radioactive seawater contaminated by the tsunami and earthquake damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant has made it all the way to the shores of the United States. 

Cal State Long Beach graduate students are diving in to the ocean to collect kelp, known for its ability to absorb nutrients and potentially radioactive seawater from Japan.

"It's the ability to absorb nutrients that's exploited because they also absorb the dissolved radio isotopes that will be coming this way," Dr. Steven Manley told NBC.

"The levels we project we're going to see in kelp are going to be quite low and certainly not harmful to humans -- but the effect on simpler forms of wildlife we don't know. Whatever is in the kelp will get into the bodies of those animals also," Manley added.

The kelp, about 14 pounds of it, will be dried, ground, and sent out to northern California to be tested for radiation levels. The results, may give us the first proof that water from Japan has traveled more than 5000 miles to our shores.

"If we do find something, it can serve as a warning that these materials that get released thousands of miles away can find a way across the oceans," Manley said. 
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