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Half Moon Bay Beach Radiation Not From Fukushima, Officials Say

Science disproves claims that there is radiation from Fukushima hitting the beach in any detectible levels.

Surfer's Beach, El Granada Photo: Kari Hulac
Surfer's Beach, El Granada Photo: Kari Hulac

The radiation reading on a recent YouTube video showing high levels of radiation on Surfer’s Beach in El Granada using a Geiger Counter are Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) not attributable to Fukushima, according to a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“Recent tests show that elevated levels of radiation at Half Moon Bay are due to naturally occurring materials and not radioactivity associated with the Fukushima incident,” said spokeswoman Wendy Hopkins of the California Department of Public Health. “There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima.”

San Mateo County health officials also say that after testing the sand on Dec. 27 that higher levels of radiation on Half Moon Bay and Pacifica beaches appear to be from naturally occurring minerals, typically found in coastal geology, said Dean Peterson, Director for Environmental Health Services for San Mateo County.

“The radionuclides are in the NORM class of radioactive substances, not from Fukushima,” concurs Dan Sythe, CEO for International Medcom, which designs and manufactures Geiger Counters, a device used to detect radiation hazards in the home, workplace and environment.

Sythe’s Inspector device is featured in the video, which led some to believe that radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdown in Japan was now hitting the West Coast. Sythe also specializes in radiation detection and public safety. He was so concerned about the video that he asked his friend Steve Weiss, an electrical engineer from the Coastside, to mail some Half Moon Bay sand to his Sebastopol home to “personally test a sample of sand from the beach, and I am convinced there is no link to Fukushima,” he said.

He found that the radioactive areas of the beach seem to be associated with dark sand below the high tide level.   

“The levels detected are about five to 10 times what you would normally expect to find on a beach," he said. "But if the sand were contaminated by radiation from Fukushima it would show Cesium-137 a product of nuclear fission which is reported to be the major health concern in Fukushima."

In March 2011 when a tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, radioactive isotopes were also released into the air and were absorbed by the ocean when they rained down upon it, according to a report on Deep Sea News, a publication highly regarded for directly communicating science to the public. These two pathways introduced mostly Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and Cesium-134, but also some Tellurium, Uranium and Strontium to the area surrounding the power plant. 

What Sythe found on Surfer's Beach was not this. He got radium and thorium, which are naturally occurring radioactive elements, he said. The radiation level is elevated, but roughly equivalent to some granite counter top material from Brazil. He documented his findings in a blog post on the Geiger Counter Bulletin here.

Whether this material is naturally occurring at this beach or not remains a question, said Sythe. “There are reports that a pipeline was once at this location and oil pipelines can collect heavy radioactive minerals.”

He believes the beach is safe but would err on the side of caution with young children and babies "to make sure they don't inhale or eat the sand," said Sythe, who describes himself as conservative when it comes to dealing with controversial issues regarding radiation health and safety and prefers a more "precautionary approach," he said.

The volume of water in the Pacific Ocean has a significant diluting effect on radionuclides that are present and it is not anticipated that the concentration will increase in the waters off of the west coast, according to California Department of Public Health Officials.

Still, Sythe hopes the state will do further testing to determine the origin and full nature of the hot spots on the beach. “But we are confident that it is not related to Fukushima, based on the spectral signature,” he said.

Since the video was published on YouTube on Dec. 24, 2013, the state and county have sent teams to the beach for a survey. According to the Cal Office of Emergency Services, the California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch did testing last week as did the San Mateo County Health/Environmental office.

On Dec. 27 a county inspector with a Geiger counter using GPS coordinates in El Granada as provided by the CA Office of Emergency Services reported that at the high tide mark at Surfer's Beach, their meter indicated a level of 100 micro REM's, which is three to four times higher than background for the area, said Peterson.

“This level is not a public health concern,” he said. “With respect to levels of radiation, it is safe to visit any of our coastal beaches.”

Still, Peterson forwarded the issue to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Public Health to further analyze the radioactivity.

“Because the level was higher, it is protocol for us to contact state and federal agencies for further investigation,” he said.

CDPH has collected and will be analyzing sand samples from Half Moon Bay. Results of the analysis will be released as soon as the analysis is completed possibly sometime this week, according to Hopkin.

The agency has been in contact with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and they are monitoring the situation with the nuclear reactors in Japan, said Hopkin. The FDA as well as the private entity Woods-Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have monitored fish from the Pacific and while minute levels of Cesium were found in blue fin tuna most recent tests show even those small levels are declining.

“There’s an incredible amount of disinformation going on these days about Fukushima,” said Sythe. “Without downplaying the danger and difficulties, it is important to note that some people are exaggerating the situation at Fukushima, for unknown reasons, in very dramatic ways."

Other recommended sources on the issue include:

• Radiation on California Beaches

• Is the sea floor littered with dead animals due to radiation? No.    

• Three reasons why Fukushima radiation has nothing to do with starfish wasting syndrome  

• True facts about Ocean Radiation and the Fukushima Disaster  



Big M January 22, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Listen to your Government! They are there to protect you! They have YOUR best interests at heart. pfft If they are going to lie about everything else, why not lie about this.
Phillip Bailey January 22, 2014 at 02:52 PM
China's Pollution Wafting Across Pacific To The U.S., Study Finds http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/21/china-pollution-us_n_4635561.html?ref=topbar BEIJING, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Pollution from China travels in large quantities across the Pacific Ocean to the United States, a new study has found, making environmental and health problems unexpected side effects of U.S. demand for cheap China-manufactured goods. On some days, acid rain-inducing sulphate from burning of fossil fuels in China can account for as much as a quarter of sulphate pollution in the western United States, a team of Chinese and American researchers said in the report published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a non-profit society of scholars. Cities like Los Angeles received at least an extra day of smog a year from nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide from China's export-dependent factories, it said. "We've outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us," co-author Steve Davis, a scientist at University of California Irvine, said. Between 17 and 36 percent of various air pollutants in China in 2006 were related to the production of goods for export, according to the report, and a fifth of that specifically tied to U.S.-China trade. One third of China's greenhouse gases is now from export-based industries, according to World-watch Institute, a U.S.-based environmental research group. China's neighbors, such as Japan and South Korea, have regularly suffered noxious clouds from China in the last couple of decades as environmental regulations have been sacrificed for economic and industrial growth. However, the new report showed that many pollutants, including black carbon, which contributes to climate change and is linked to cancer, emphysema and heart and lung diseases, travelled huge distances on global winds known as "westerlies". Trans-boundary pollution has for several years been an issue in international climate change negotiations, where China has argued that developed nations should take responsibility for a share of China's greenhouse gas emissions, because they originate from production of goods demanded by the West. The report said its findings showed that trade issues must play a role in global talks to cut pollution. "International cooperation to reduce trans-boundary transport of air pollution must confront the question of who is responsible for emissions in one country during production of goods to support consumption in another," it said. Air quality is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has poisoned much of the country's air, water and soil. Authorities have invested in various projects to fight pollution, but none so far has worked. (Reporting by Stian Reklev; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Phillip Bailey January 22, 2014 at 04:29 PM
Dear "Damiana": I'll let others decide. I'm providing scientific articles from Huffington post. The Pond that was drained in Redwood Shores was clearly avian and I had "spoofingly" purported here that there was a connection which in fact there never was. That said it IS disturbing that they drained the water from RWShores INTO the Bay. Now that is disturbing. {Damiana has long been claimed to have a stimulating effect on libido, and its use as an aphrodisiac has continued into modern times. More recently, some corroborating scientific evidence in support of its long history of use has emerged. Several animal testing studies have shown evidence of increased sexual activity in rats of both sexes. Damiana has been shown to be particularly stimulating for sexually exhausted or impotent male ratsmas well as generally increased sexual activity in rats of both sexes.}
Phillip Bailey February 01, 2014 at 02:01 PM
Scientists to test Malibu Kelp for Fukushima radiation MALIBU — In California, kelp is at once admired for its underwater beauty, grumbled over as a beach obstacle and served up on dinner plates. Now it is being used in the name of science. Researchers will visit Malibu next month to test local kelp as part of a West Coast-wide effort to determine the levels of residual radiation released in 2011 when tsunamis damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. “Whatever is in the sea water will be magnified in the kelp,” says Steven Manley, a biology professor at Cal State Long Beach. A research team led by UCLA ecologist Peggy Fong will take 15-pound samples at locations off Escondido Beach and a second site near County Line Beach sometime between Feb. 24 and March 5. More than 20 labs and universities will take place in the effort, called Kelp Watch 2014, testing 35 sites from Alaska to Baja. Found up and down the coast, this canopy-forming kelp acts like a sponge and absorbs most of what is in the water. The kelp serves essentially as a natural dosimeter, which means it measures an absorbed dose of radiation. Earlier this month, government officials said trace elements of radiation from the Fukushima disaster did not endanger California beachgoers. “There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. One of the main reasons for the study is to “let the public know what’s there,” Manley said. He’s “pretty sure” researchers will find radiation in the kelp samples, however, he anticipates a very low amount because the radiation most likely has been diluted. The kelp will be dried out, ground down and inspected for radiation by scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The series of tests is the first of three efforts planned this year by scientists to monitor radiation levels on the West Coast. Results from the research are expected to be available on a website by March. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, resulting in casualties of around 20,000 and decimating cities. It also triggered a series of tsunamis that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and sent radiation leaks into the ocean. Studies show that radionuclides from the plant continue to leak into the sea, according to the Los Angeles Times, but experts say the radiation quickly dilutes in the water. Professor Manley has been getting calls from surfers and others asking if it’s safe to swim and surf. Last week, visitors to Malibu beaches indicated they were also keen to find out what the research yields. One surfer said he was aware of the radiation reports, but would not let it affect his time in the ocean. “This is not a good development but we will still go strong as surfers,” he said. - See more at: http://smdp.com/scientists-to-test-malibu-kelp-for-fukushima-radiation/131611#sthash.VvGiQpFz.dpuf

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