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
Kevin Quon writes in Seeking Alpha about the financial plights and pivots of Solazyme, the algae industry’s most high profile recent IPO. In a year that started with a sh...
In a recent study, published in PLOS ONE Journal, the influence of light intensity on the growth and lipid productivity of Nannochloropsis salina was investigated in a fl...
Kailua Kona, Hawaii-based Cyanotech has announced financial results for the third quarter and first nine months of fiscal year 2015, ended December 31, 2014. For the thir...
A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Biomass Energy Technologies Office (BETO) project, awarded to Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) in collaboration with M...
Solazyme has announced that total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $14.5 million, compared with $11.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of 29%....
Hammenhög, Sweden-based agribusiness Simris Alg has announced the launch of its first consumer products. The algae farmers’ exclusive omega-3 supplements and superfoods w...
Montague, Prince Edward Island-based Solarvest has announced that it has used its algal-based production platform to express bioactive therapeutic proteins. The proof of ...
The European (FP7) algae project Sustainable PoLymers from Algae Sugars and Hydrocarbons (SPLASH) has been developing a platform technology for the conversion of third ge...
None of us would be alive if sperm cells didn’t know how to swim, or if the cilia in our lungs couldn’t prevent fluid buildup. But we know very little about the dynamics ...
Jeff Gelski writes in foodbusinessnews.net that algae oil is now in the toolbox of alternative oils shown to replace partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which cause trans...
Simris Alg, a pioneering agribusiness producing omega-3 from farmed algae, has been declared one of Sweden’s 33 hottest companies in new technology. The renowned list is ...
Scientific representatives from the EnAlgae consortium are announcing preliminary results this week from a key algal carbon capture project in the works at Britain’s larg...
The vision of developing a community college degree program to train a high technology algae workforce was launched at New Mexico's Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) in 2...
Japan’s IHI Corporation has announced that they have succeeded in stably cultivating a modified high-output algal strain in a 1,500 square meter open pond in Kagoshima, K...
EnAlgae researchers have published an economic model to help to explore the economics of cultivating macroalgae at sea. The model and report can be found here as outputs ...