Fish market. (Photo Credit: FlyingToaster CC BY 3.0)
Japanese fish imports banned amid concerns over radioactivity
Monday, September 09, 2013, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
Japanese fish imports from eight of its prefectures have been subjected to a new ban by South Korea government out of concerns that they can be contaminated as a result of radioactive water leaks from Fukushima nuclear plant.
The ban, which will become effective from Monday, concerns all seafood products from Fukushima, Aomori, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, and Chiba prefectures and is being imposed regardless of each prefecture radioactive contamination levels.
In an official press release, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries stated that: "The measure comes as our people's concerns are growing over the fact that hundreds of tons of radiation contaminated water are leaked daily from the site of Japan's nuclear accident in Fukushima," reports Yonhap News Agency.
The Fukushima plant, located 230 km from Tokyo and victim of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, was the site of one of the most dramatic environmental accidents in recent years, when three reactor cooling systems melted down, causing a radioactive leak of massive proportions. The plant has had several water leaks in the past few months.
The radioactive water is being stored in tanks at present but these have been leaking in a persistent way over the past few months. Then there is the worry that groundwater from nearby hills also flows down and into the radioactive zone.
The South Korean government considers the Japanese authorities did not provide enough information to predict how the incident would unfold, said a spokesman for the South Korean PM's office, Shin Joon-don.
Despite the Japanese government's claims that the fisheries products originating from that area are safe to eat, South Korea already has imposed a ban on 50 fisheries products.
Top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told the BBC that "We are conducting strict safety controls based on international standards. If (radiation) readings are above the standards, shipment will be stopped".
Korea's decision increases the international pressure on Japan to deal with and fix the Fukushima crisis, reports Reuters.
By Gabriela Raffaele