The fishermen of Fukushima prefecture are concerned about the rumors on the possible contamination of fish products. (Map: Stock File)
More radioactive water released into the sea; fishers seek help
Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 15:00 (GMT + 9)
Fishers in Fukushima Prefecture are asking the government to solve the problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and to prevent rumors by providing the public with accurate information. Meanwhile, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has begun pouring 10,000 tonnes of low-radioactive wastewater into the sea.
After hearing confirmation on Saturday that radioactive water was leaking into surrounding waters from the No 1 nuclear reactor, the fishers reiterated that rumors about all the seawater being contaminated could impair their livelihoods.
Head of the Soma-Futaba fishery association in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, Fusayuki Nambu urged the government to release full details on the situation.
"We don't know what damage the radiation leak might cause, because assessment surveys haven't been conducted,” he stressed, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun. “This could give rise to dangerous rumors if people get the impression that all the seawater near Fukushima [Prefecture] is contaminated."
This weekend, three fishery associations in south-central Ibaraki Prefecture -- Oaraimachi, Kashimanada and Hasaki -- issued a statement assuring that the waters of southern Kashimanada are safe. They noted that radiation tests had been run on seafood caught in the area and that only extremely small amounts of radioactive material had been found.
"If this situation continues, fishermen won't be able to make a living. We really hope things will go back to normal quickly," told Tsutomu Ishida, head of the Oaraimachi fishery association.
A Fisheries Agency official in charge of disaster response remarked that everyone is hoping for the best.
"Not only fishermen but all people, including consumers and people in other countries, hope the leak of contaminated water into the sea will be stopped as soon as possible," the official said.
Off Chiba Prefecture, testing of sardines and other fish detected an extremely small amount of radioactive cesium, which fell within the range allowed under government regulations. The Fisheries Agency promised that the fish was safe for human consumption.
Tepco communicated that the low-radioactive water it has started to release into the sea contains iodine-131 levels that about 100 times over the legal limit, reports BBC.
However, if people ate fish and seaweed caught in waters off the plant every day for a year, the company said, their radiation exposure would remain at just 0.6 mSv, noting that normal background radiation levels are 2 mSv per year.
The contaminants in the water are expected to become mixed and diluted over time as they reach the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Kaoru Yoshida, public affairs manager at TEPCO, avoided stating whether the company, which is in charge of all the nuclear reactors in Fukushima, intends to compensate fishers for their losses.
"We'd like to focus on dealing with the current situation," she said.
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By Natalia Real