SDSU Professor Murray Jennex

The nuclear crisis in Japan is the worst the world has seen since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Yet fears of harmful radiation traveling to the California coast are unwarranted — so far.

According to Murray Jennex, San Diego State University College of Business Administration professor with expertise in nuclear containment testing, the particles traveling to the United States are so small in number that they pose no real health risk.

Radiation risk

“From a standpoint of radiation, I haven’t seen anything that should be a concern to us,” Jennex said. “They are finding a few particles, but they are of such a small quantity that it has no real impact on our health.”

Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex exploded last week, sending a gray plume of smoke high into the air, Jennex has tested background radiation all over San Diego County. His tests show that even with particles traveling from Japan, there is no significant increase in the background radiation that would be cause for alarm.

(Jennex’s readings can be viewed here.)

“There’s no real impact, or change, to our background radiation levels,” he said. “We’re at the same risk as we were before, which is incredibly low.”

Economic impacts will be greater

Jennex, who has 20 years of experience in the commercial nuclear power industry, teaches information security, crisis response and knowledge management/decision support, and works with SDSU’s homeland security program.

He said that while U.S. food inspectors will need to take extra precautions with food products coming from Japan, the bigger impacts to San Diegans, and Americans as a whole, will come from the economic fallout of the crisis, not the nuclear fallout.

“Products that come from Japan that need power to build and manufacture, there’s going to be an impact on that because this is a significant impact on the Japanese infrastructure.”

Jennex said he will continue his tests for the next week or so, unless the situation in Japan take a negative turn.


By Greg Block

SDSU NewsCenter