8 January 2014, 21:44

Higher-than-normal radiation levels at California beaches not related to Fukushima - scientists

Higher-than-normal radiation levels at California beaches not related to Fukushima - scientists

Authorities in California have sent teams to measure radiation along the San Mateo County coast in response to a video posted on YouTube by an unidentified author, yet found nothing life-threatening. In a seven-minute video, a man holding a Geiger counter radiation detector is walking through Pacifica State Beach near San Francisco. The counter indicates fluctuating radiation levels – at times of up to 150 counts-per-minute or five times higher than normal.

The author of the video says on his blog that he has been taking radiation measurements in the area for over two years. In late December, he spotted a sudden increase in radiation which he claims to be the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear breakdown in Japan.

More than half a million people have viewed the video, titled “Fukushima hits San Francisco!”, since it was uploaded to YouTube on Christmas Eve.

Local health officials conducted an independent survey and confirmed “higher-than-typical” radiation readings but denied that there was any “immediate public health concern”.

Nevertheless, they forwarded the matter to the US Environmental Protection Agency. So far, it’s not clear if any further inquiry will follow.

The controversial video has fueled fears that radioactive waste generated by the Fukushima disaster might affect the US coast.

But scientists are skeptical that there is any Fukushima-related radiation hitting California beaches in any detectible levels.

“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… There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima,” said Wendy Hopkins, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health.

“The radionuclides are in the NORM class of radioactive substances, not from Fukushima,” echoed Dan Sythe, CEO for International Medcom, which designs and manufactures Geiger Counters.

Sythe had a sample of sand from the beach sent to him and, having tested it, is “convinced that there is no link to Fukushima”. The radioactive areas of the beach seem to him 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 which is reported to be the major health concern in Fukushima."

Instead he got radium and thorium, which are naturally occurring radioactive elements.

Experts have been monitoring fish from the Pacific and while microscopic levels of cesium were found in blue fin tuna, most recent tests reveal that even those small levels are declining.

Voice of Russia, CBS, RT

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