Fukushima’s Fish Tale

pufferfishA Canadian paper talked to experts and used government data to estimate the risk to human health from Fukushima contaminated fish. The results were rather disturbing. Using EPA cancer calculations and Japan’s existing fish testing data they found a clear cancer risk to not just people in Japan but anywhere those fish are exported to. They then looked at the potential due to distribution of radiation around the pacific and found an exponential risk to the public.

Something not tested for to date but mentioned by Straight.com is the risk from strontium 90 and plutonium in Pacific fish. No agency or citizen group is testing for these two isotopes in the food supply, this includes Pacific sea food. The amounts and distribution of these isotopes in the international food supply remain a mystery.

Straight.com also pointed out the other heath risks rarely mentioned when talking about radiation exposure such as heart disease and genetic damage. They spoke to a number of experts, in the end they all agreed there is at least some risk to eating fish with man made radionuclides such as cesium, strontium or plutonium. They disagreed somewhat on the degree of risk. The research also found a similar problem with Canadian seafood testing that we found previously with FDA testing. The fish most at risk for contamination were rarely if ever tested. This tactic gives a false sense of security and leaves the true risk factor unknown. CFIA did some other food testing in 2012 but has refused to release the data even a year later. They claimed it is still being analyzed. This excuse is a non-starter. Citizen groups, farm coops and the Japanese government have all managed to put out radiation testing results for food in a timely manner. This is usually the same day or within a week of conducting the tests.

TEPCO has been testing fish in the port at the plant and within a 20km radius. The types of fish being tested in both locations differs. This may be partially due to the habitat of those fish species or a reluctance to sufficiently test the same species in both locations as it could show contamination is not staying in the port as TEPCO has tried to claim. There is also no 3rd party verification or oversight on their fish testing efforts. Only some of the haul could be being tested or only desired results are reported. The pubic really has no way of knowing and would need to accept TEPCO’s testing on faith. Some of the fish tested by a local university showed higher levels than TEPCO’s testing. A rockfish caught 1.5km from the plant showed 442 bq/kg of cesium. Meanwhile TEPCO’s testing shows much lower in their testing. Kinki University, that found the contaminated rockfish is also working on other fish testing in the Pacific in conjunction with US universities.

Meanwhile Russia is looking to increase their screening of fish due to concerns from Fukushima. Officials expressed concern over the possible re-importation of fish via South Korea or China since screening programs in some countries do not have an actual tracking system.

Japan began efforts this week to get the WTO to intervene in South Korea’s ban of some Japanese seafood after new leaks at Fukushima Daiichi were admitted.

A citizen radiation watchdog group, BQwatcher posted these contamination readings this week, found on Japanese government websites.

Miyagi Full Season → Genki blue uni Kesennuma 8.7 Bq / kg

Ibaraki 130 Bq / kg · Komonkasube 33, flounder, yellowtail flounder 11 7.7, rock trout, red sea bream 2.8 1.2 1.1 Shousaifugu

Ibaraki Kasumigaura 44 Bq / kg · Gengoroubuna 40-26-whitebait smelt 14 (river fish)

While the levels are lower than many found around the effected areas of Japan they do show the diversity of contamination. The is obviously much left to do to understand and properly deal with the problem. Despite concerns by a variety of experts no effort is underway to screen seafood for strontium or plutonium.

image credit: www.freedomsphoenix.com


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