Research

Kelp Watch 2014 to assess radioactive contamination

January 23, 2014
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Kelp Watch 2014 is designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of California’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Kelp Watch 2014 is designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of California’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Researchers from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have launched “Kelp Watch 2014,” a scientific campaign designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of the state’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Initiated by CSULB Biology Professor Steven L. Manley and the Berkeley Lab’s Head of Applied Nuclear Physics, Kai Vetter, the project will rely on samples of giant kelp and bull kelp from along the California coast.

“The California kelp forest is a highly productive and complex ecosystem and a valuable state resource. It is imperative that we monitor this coastal forest for any radioactive contaminants that will be arriving this year in the ocean currents from the Fukushima disaster,” said Dr. Manley, an expert in marine algae and kelp.

“I receive calls and emails weekly from concerned visitors and Californians about the effect of the Fukushima disaster on our California marine life,” he continued. “I tell them that the anticipated concentrations that will arrive are most likely very low but we have no data regarding its impact on our coastal ecosystem. Kelp Watch 2014 will provide an initial monitoring system at least in the short-term.”

The project includes the participation of 19 academic and government institutions and three other organizations and businesses. These participants will sample kelp from the entire California coastline as far north as Del Norte County and as far south as Baja California. The sampling will begin in mid-February and will take place several times, ending in late winter.

“What I have attempted to do is to organize marine scientists and educators from up and down the coastline to collect a large amount of kelp several times a year so that we can ascertain the amount of radioactive material entering our kelp forests,” Dr. Manley explained. “The response has been overwhelming. Recently I was contacted by a scientist in Washington State who wants to send samples. I said, ‘Sure.’”

Processed kelp samples will be sent to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Low Background Facility for detailed radionuclide analysis. As data becomes available it will be posted for public access.

“Working with Dr. Vetter and his group is a perfect collaboration because of their vast experience in measuring radioactivity in a variety of biological samples, including seaweeds,” Dr. Manley noted. “His enthusiasm and support of Kelp Watch 2014 has been most gratifying. If the kelp takes up the radioactive material, we should detect it.”

Vetter, who is also a professor of nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley, pointed out that “UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab’s analysis within the new Kelp Watch initiative is part of a larger, ongoing, effort to measure Fukushima related radionuclides in a large variety of objects. We have two main objectives – to learn more about the distribution and transport of these materials in our world, and to make the results and explanations available to the public.

“Making our results available is a critical aspect of our work as it allows us to address concerns about Fukushima radiation levels and to explain the meaning and potential impact of these levels,” he added, “particularly in the context of the natural radiation background we are exposed to in our daily lives.”

Several institutions—Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (California State University), Marine Science Institute (UC Santa Barbara), Coastal and Marine Institute (San Diego State University) and CSULB—have volunteered to serve as regional processing centers where needed. Also participating are marine scientists from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Baja Norte Mexico.

“At the present time this entire initiative is unfunded by any state or federal agency, with time and costs being ‘donated’ by the participants,” Dr. Manley said. “I hope that this changes. USC Sea Grant funded an earlier related study of mine and I hope it or some other funding agency will help fund this more extensive project.

“Still, more participants are signing up weekly,” he said. “We encourage scientists, educational institutions and other interested organizations to participate in the collecting and/or processing.”

More Like This…

HOME A.I.M. Archives

Copyright ©2010-2015 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Prior posts highlight the value proposition for building a Green Friendship Bridge of algae microfarms in lieu of 1%, (13 miles) of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall wi...
Algae.Tec has announced that, with the completion of the US$1M injection by Gencore, their nutraceutical plant upgrade in Cummings, Georgia, is progressing ahead of sched...
Tom Lindfors writes in the New Richmond News about how the Roberts, Wisconsin, wastewater treatment plant – considered a minor utility designed to treat an average flow o...
Algatechnologies Ltd (Algatech), of Kibbutz Ketura, Israel, has become part of the FoodConnects consortium, as winner of a pan-European competition for the Food4Future pr...
An unprecedented harmful algal bloom off the coast of New England this fall provided a unique opportunity for Waterville, Maine-based Colby College students studying at B...
Discovering which algae species is best suited to make biofuel is no small task. Researchers have tried to evaluate algae in test tubes, but often find lab results don’t ...
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft reports in Science Daily that two algae species survived 16 months on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS) despite extreme temper...
Marlene Cimons, nexusmedianews.com reports that researchers at the University of California San Diego and Sapphire Energy have successfully grown a genetically engineered...
Algatech has announced the opening of Algatech Inc., a New York City-based subsidiary created to serve the North American market. The company has appointed Ken Seguine to...
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of three projects to receive up to $8 million, aimed at reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and...
A Bay Area company has patented a group of three single-celled, algae-like organisms that, when grown together, can produce high quantities of sugar just right for making...
The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) reports that an international team has discovered an enzyme which allows microalgae to convert some of their fatty acid...