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Spanish vessel monitors radioactivity in Pacific

"Hesperides" dispatched to seek fallout from Fukushima meltdown

The Spanish research vessel Hesperides left a Sydney port on Friday to search for radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear plant in the middle of the Pacific.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, head researcher Carlos Duarte said the ship will monitor for the spread of radioisotopes, such as Celsium-137, which can be fatal to humans. The Spanish vessel, which is halfway through a seven-month voyage of the globe as part of the Malaspina expedition to monitor climate change and pollution, was tapped to journey to the central Pacific because it was the nearest such research vessel in the vicinity.

As the Hesperides travels back to Spain, through Honolulu, the scientists will collect samples of air and water as well as marine life to see if radioactivity has spread, the newspaper said.

The Hesperides, which left Spain in December, was taking part in a $23-million expedition involving more than 400 researchers from 11 nations. The research vessel is expected to return in July.