Radioactive material in CdM doesn’t stop beachgoers

Corona del Mar may have topped the list of places where radioactive material linked to Fukushima, Japan, was found in kelp, but beachgoers were out in full force Tuesday afternoon, and some seemed unfazed by the findings.

The beach activity comes on the heels of a study by Cal State Long Beach professors in which radioactive isotope iodine 131, one of the contaminants released by a Japanese nuclear power plant damaged by last year’s earthquake and tsunami, was found in kelp sampled from Laguna Beach to Alaska.

Samples taken from CdM’s kelp measured highest in the amount of iodine counted, possibly because of runoff from the San Diego Creek through Newport Harbor, according to the study’s findings.

Boaz Topol of New York visited Corona del Mar State Beach on Tuesday afternoon with his daughters, and said the study’s findings were worrisome.

“Definitely right now, I’m not going to be inclined to go into the water,” he said.

Orange County Health Care Agency spokeswoman Tricia Landquist said the agency is taking its cues from the state before implementing any measures at local beaches and needs to review the study before taking any action.

As for the state, it couldn’t comment too much on the study’s data.

“The California Department of Public Health is not privy to the actual data to comment on any specific concentrations of Iodine 131 or Cesium 137/134,” Steve Woods, the division chief for CDPH’s Division of Food, Drug and Radiation Safety, said in an email. “Radioactive iodine has an eight-day half-life, so after 80 days it is gone.

“In addition, based on the samples CDPH analyzed from air, milk and the Diablo Canyon and San Onofre nuclear power plants, the department has not seen any public health danger. CDPH will keep monitoring.”

The study’s authors said in a news release that while the levels were significant, they most likely were not harmful to humans, although the iodine may have affected some fish that graze on kelp and depend on iodine for thyroid functions.

Authors Steven L. Manley and Christopher G. Lowe sampled blades taken last year from the uppermost layer of kelp in Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove, CdM, Lunada Bay in Los Angeles County, Goleta Point in Santa Barbara, Point Cabrillo Pacific Grove, Natural Bridges Santa Cruz and Japonski Island in Sitka, Alaska.

Blades sampled in Alaska had almost undetectable amounts of iodine 131, possibly because of winds that would have pushed the radiation toward California.

The findings were a concern for some.

Gabriela Garcia of Orange, who was walking alongside CdM’s beach Tuesday afternoon, said “of course” the findings were a concern and said she wanted to be somewhere she felt safe.

Latvian Nauris Jansons, who is on a two-week trip visiting Southern California, was initially skeptical of the findings.

“Can it really come so far? I don’t think it can be a concern,” he said. “If it’s scientific proof, then it can be a concern.”

Harbor View Homes resident Milvi Vanderslice didn’t share the same concern as some other beachgoers. She sat with her friend Tiina Kaskla of Huntington Beach on a bench above the bluffs and said she’s not worried about the iodine, but concealed the news from her daughter who recently had a baby.

“Listen, if the kelp sucks it up it’s probably not in the water, but I’m not telling my daughter,” Vanderslice said. “If we would leave it alone I think nature takes care of everything. We love this beach.”

Twitter: @lawilliams30