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No increased radiation so far in Southern California, air quality agency says

March 17, 2011 | 11:28 am

No increased levels of radiation have been detected in Southern California since a nuclear power plant was damaged in Japan, the local air quality agency said Thursday.

“As of right now, we have not seen any change in the background levels of radiation,” said Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The agency monitors radiation on behalf of the federal government for the Southern California area at three regional stations.

“We’re going to monitor it minute by minute,” Atwood said. “Nobody is predicting anywhere near hazardous levels of radiation on the West Coast of the United States. But because our instruments are extremely sensitive, it is very likely the instruments will measure some increase.”

Experts working with the agency estimated it would take at least five days for radiation released in Japan to reach the Los Angeles area, and the radiation would be substantially diluted by that time.

Even under regular circumstances, radiation levels fluctuate significantly, with readings sometimes four times greater than at other times, Atwood said.

The agency will publish a daily update and provide alerts of any notable changes, Atwood said.

“We understand that people are concerned, and we are committed to providing the latest information,” he said.

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-- Howard Blume

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