Post-Fukushima, Japan’s irradiated fish worry B.C. experts

Sunday, July 29, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Alex Roslin
Straight.com

Are fish from the Pacific Ocean and Japanese coastal and inland waters safe to eat 16 months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster?

Governments and many scientists say they are. But the largest collection of data on radiation in Japanese fish tells a very different story.

In June, 56 percent of Japanese fish catches tested by the Japanese government were contaminated with ce-sium-137 and -134. (Both are human-made radioactive isotopes—produced through nuclear fission—of the element cesium.)

And 9.3 percent of the catches exceeded Japan’s official ceiling for cesium, which is 100 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg). (A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity equal to one nuclear disintegration per second.)

Radiation levels remain especially high in many species that Japan has exported to Canada in recent years, such as cod, sole, halibut, landlocked kokanee, carp, trout, and eel.

Of these species, cod, sole, and halibut, which are oceanic species, could also be fished by other nations that export their Pacific Ocean catch to Canada.

The revelations come from the Japanese Fisheries Agency’s radiation tests on almost 14,000 commercial fish catches in both international Pacific and Japanese waters since March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The wrecked plant spewed enormous amounts of radiation into the Pacific, where cesium levels near the Fukushima coast shot up to an astonishing 45 million times the pre-accident levels.

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