News / Asia

Fukushima Radiation Traced in Pacific Seafood

Fukushima Radiation Traced in Pacific Seafoodi
X
October 26, 2013 1:30 AM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has insisted that seafood caught near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is safe to eat. Scientists have voiced concerns, however, that radioactive isotopes could accumulate in fish and pose a danger to human health. Henry Ridgwell recently visited Japan and has this report for VOA.

Fukushima Radiation Traced in Pacific Seafood

TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell
— Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has insisted that seafood caught near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is safe to eat. Scientists have voiced concerns, however, that radioactive isotopes could accumulate in fish and pose a danger to human health.

Well before dawn on a cool October morning in Soma port, 30 kilometers north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, fishermen prepare their nets and get ready to head out to sea.

Fishing resumed here last month, following the lifting of a ban imposed after it emerged in July that radioactive water had leaked into the ocean.

As the fishermen prepared to cast their nets once again, the head of the cooperative, Hiroyuki Sato, offered his encouragement.

Sato said that due to the problem of the contaminated water, he knows that everyone has various concerns. He said in embarking on this trial fishing, they must show that the cooperative in Soma Futaba is willing to continue fishing.

The fishermen are permitted to land 16 types of seafood. About 95 percent of the catch is discarded. Many fishermen, like Toshihiro Miharu, question the future of their livelihood.

Miharu said the fishermen are worried about whether they can actually sell the catch.
Opening a new session of parliament this month, Abe insisted the leaks do not pose a threat to human health.

Abe said the local fishermen are suffering from a bad reputation founded on falsehood, and that the effects on food and water are well below the limits for radiation levels.

Just offshore from the Fukushima plant, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States are working alongside their Japanese counterparts, monitoring radiation levels. Among them is senior marine chemist Ken Buesseler.

“That radiation is moving across the Pacific, but it gets much, much lower even short distances offshore,” he said.

Buesseler said a bigger concern is the accumulation of isotopes in marine life. Earlier this year, cesium isotopes from Fukushima were found in tuna caught off California.

“The tuna that were caught off San Diego with the Fukushima cesium isotopes, they were 10 to 20 times lower than they had been off Japan. Now the new releases, the leak from the tanks - they’re changing in character. Strontium 90 has become of more concern because it’s a bone-seeking isotope. That will stay in fish much longer,” he said.

TEPCO, the owner of the Fukushima plant, is building an underground frozen wall to prevent contaminated water leaking into the sea. It is also testing a system to decontaminate the water.

Rianne Teule, nuclear expert at the environmental organization Greenpeace, says it is not clear whether those technologies will work.

“They already spent a lot of money trying to implement them. What Greenpeace wants is that the government really gets in international advice, gets as much support as possible to try to find the right solution for this problem.”

The livelihoods of the fishermen of Fukushima depend on finding that solution.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid