Marine Chemist: ‘The reactors are still leaking’ — ‘Why aren’t the fish getting cleaner?’ — ‘Level of contamination not going down’ — ‘One gaping question is how much radioactivity was released’
May 31st, 2012
Does Radioactive Tuna Mean Fukushima Was Worse than Expected?
May 31, 2012; 10:58 AM ET
Radioactive isotopes from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster turned up in bluefin tuna caught off California in August, a new study reports.
This raises the question: Was the fallout of the Fukushima nuclear disaster worse than predicted?
Even 15 months out, it’s hard to say. “A lot of questions remain,” said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “One gaping question is how much radioactivity was released. Another is related to the continued leak at Fukushima and another is the level of contamination of seafood and sediments — whether that will change over time or continue for decades.”
And the damage to the oceans isn’t done yet. “The reactors are still leaking,” Buesseler told Life’s Little Mysteries. “The release has been stable for several months, but there are still radionuclides being released on shore.” As a consequence, fish off the coast of Japan are continuing to exhibit elevated levels of contamination, and some bottom-dweller species around Fukushima are still unsafe to eat. “The fact that the level of contamination is not going down, that they have fish that are above legal limits, is of concern,” he said. “Why aren’t the fish getting cleaner?”