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Radiation Testing Questioned In California

Five thousand miles is a long way from the crippled reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Experts say that’s why, so far, the amount of radiation reaching U.S shores has been detectable, but not dangerous. But some lawmakers and watchdogs are now questioning just how completely radiation levels are being tested.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has 11 stationary radiation monitors in California. They’re part of a system called RadNet. In in the weeks after the beginning of the nuclear crisis in Japan, only seven of the monitors were working.

The EPA also decided not to deploy mobile monitors they have in storage.

"I’m worried that politics is mixing with public safety," said Dan Hirsch, a lecturer in nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz.

The administration’s position in Washington has been to expand the use of nuclear power. And I’m worried that there is concern that this Japanese accident might somehow derail that effort to have those additional tax payer subsidies.

Hirsch says even if all the detectors were online, gaps of hundreds of miles remain in the system.

But the California Department of Public Health says it has its own radiation monitoring system and that right now levels remain completely safe.

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