LONG BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) — Researchers say seaweed harvested from Orange County beaches tested positive for small amounts of radiation from last year’s nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
According to a study released this week by researchers at Cal State Long Beach, a wave of radioactivity traveled across the Pacific Ocean in the week after the 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
The tsunami from that quake and subsequent aftershocks sent over debris as well as the radioactive isotope iodine 131, which was believed to have been released by the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Researchers, who were working on a separate project mapping a different isotope, cesium 137, harvested the seaweed from three sites along Orange County at Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove in the week after the quake.
Those samples contained contained small amounts of iodine 131, as well as cesium 137.
The highest levels were found in Corona del Mar. Researchers said the levels were probably highest there because the kelp is also exposed to urban runoff.
Samples were also collected by marine biologists from UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Alaska Southeast.