Fire at the Fukushima nuclear plant following the earthquake that shook Japan on 11 March. (Photo: YouTube / Stock File / FIS)
Growing fears over radiation affecting fishery resources
Thursday, March 24, 2011, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
The Japanese government will take samples of Pacific Ocean waters near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima-1 to see if fish stocks may be contaminated with radiation.
While some 300 technicians from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) have continued to cool the reactors at the plant damaged by the earthquake to prevent further explosions and spreading a toxic cloud, government authorities have confirmed the pollution of farms and orchards.
According to a farmer in Ibaraki prefecture, south of Fukushima, "the government say that vegetables are not harmful to ones health, but customers refrain from buying them."
According to recent data reported by the Kyodo news agency, the radioactive iodine and cesium have much higher levels than usual in the water surrounding the plant.
Tepco spokesmen clarified that it is too early to properly assess the impact that these levels of radiation can have on fisheries.
The ministries of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will analyze the radiation of seawater in eight areas near nuclear plant.
Hideo Morimoto, director of the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, said the radiation in the sea water will dissipate and other coastal states are not at risk of contamination.
"At current levels of radiation, it is impossible for it to reach oceans worldwide. It is at levels that can endure in our daily lives," he went on to explain, reports the Europa Press.
For his part, the Minister of Industry, Banri Kaieda, admitted that the situation "remains extremely difficult" and the biggest problem is the radioactive emissions on the environment.
For now, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found in the town of Namie, 20 miles from the plant, a level of radioactivity that was 1,600 times higher than usual, at 161 microsievert per hour.
In more distant locations such as the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Tokyo, the measurements taken by the Japanese Government, the IAEA, the World Health Organization (WHO) and American experts indicate that radiation levels are still below those which are dangerous to peoples health.
"The radiation has only been elevated to a very low level and will not rise further, which prevents it from traveling far. So there is no reason why other countries are concerned about it," Gregory Hartl, WHO spokesman, told CCTV.
The National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives in Japan say they will not perform fishing operations in the affected areas.
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By Analia Murias