Nightly News   |  March 07, 2014

Has Radiation Entered Our Food Supply Chain?

Scientists are testing kelp on the west coast to see if radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached California.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we have an update from the west coast tonight, three years now after that tsunami in japan and the disaster at the fukushima nuclear plant we know about all of the debris that has washed up on our shores. but now scientists from long beach state university have started to look for something else. signs of radiation in the kelp that is found off the california coast. nbc's miguel almaguer has our report.

>> all right, are you guys ready?

>> reporter: stepping off from the port of long beach , professor steve manly leads to speak decision, just beyond the break wall the marine biologyist spots what he is looking for. could this kelp be contaminated with radiation from fukushima ? collecting their first samples, researchers from kelp watch 2014 .

>> this is used to detect the radioactive materials coming over from fukushima .

>> reporter: tsunami debris began to come up on the coach two years ago, littering the area, and coming up off the coast of hawaii. if radiation is discovered here it could be measured in kelp. but will it pose a public health threat?

>> people, when they don't have information they start to make up their own information. and there was a lot of fear. i wouldn't be concerned about swimming in the water or eating the local fish.

>> reporter: but its impact on the environment and marine life remains an unknown. over the next nine months, researchers will make more than 40 collections up and down the west coast . the kelp will be sent to a lab for analysis. professor iwomoto, who studies the effect of radiation on the body says there is no reason for fear.

>> we have not seen anything that should raise any kind of red flags or alarm to the general public .

>> reporter: lab results may soon give us proof contaminated water has traveled 5,000 miles to our shores. for now, no alarm, but these researchers know their work is just beginning. miguel almaguer, nbc news, long beach, california.