Marine water radiactivity monitoring. (Photo: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace)
Radioactive cesium detected off three prefectures: Gov't study
Tuesday, August 07, 2012, 23:40 (GMT + 9)
A survey of ocean waters and marine life off Niigata, Shizuoka and Iwate prefectures found radioactive cesium -- presumably coming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government has informed.
"Even if taken internally, the radiation levels detected are not a risk to human health," the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) assured.
This radioactive cesium, even found in small amounts in the East Sea (or Sea of Japan) off Niigata, was probably originally airborne and travelled to coastal waters through rain and river courses, the ministry stated.
The survey is conducted on a yearly basis in ocean waters near nuclear power plants across Japan as well as nuclear fuel-related facilities in Aomori Prefecture, Mainichi Japan reports.
In May 2011, the survey detected 9.1 millibecquerels of radioactive cesium per l of seawater off Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, near the Hamaoka nuclear plant. In December 2011, the survey found 2 becquerels per kg in a type of flounder sourced from the area.
Also in May 2011, the survey determined that dried sea floor dirt from the southeast of Sado Island, near the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, was contaminated with 31 becquerels of cesium per kg. Further, in ocean waters off Yamada, Iwate Prefecture -- an area surveyed due to the nuclear fuel cycle facilities in Aomori Prefecture – the survey found 0.7 becquerels per l of seawater.
Earlier this year, low levels of radioactive cesium were detected in fish caught off Japan’s east coast, and researchers believe this cesium originated from the Fukushima plant. Still, the full extent of the spread of radioactive contamination in the country remains fuzzy, RT reports.
In May 2012, low levels of nuclear radiation caused by the Fukushima disaster were detected in bluefin tuna off the California coast. This suggests that fish are carrying the contaminants across the Pacific Ocean faster than wind or water could, and US researchers conducted a study showing that the tuna had transported radionuclides from the 2011 Fukushima disaster across the entire North Pacific Ocean all the way to North American waters.
“I would find another source for fish if I thought it was from that area,” said Tim Takaro, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University and member of the Canadian anti-nuclear group Physicians for Global Survival, Straight.com reports. “There are way too many questions and not enough answers to say everything is fine.”
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