Fukushima Fallout: Japan Finding Radioactive Fish

It has been more than a year and a half since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, but fish of the coast in the area near the disaster are still contaminated with radiation.

MSNBC reports that fish in the coastal waters contain radioactive cesium at levels nearly as high as those tested immediately after the meltdown. The finding suggests that fish could be still face new exposure, perhaps from the ocean floor and perhaps from groundwater runoff. Most of the fish they sampled showed levels of contamination still fit for human consumption.

The New York Times reported that 36 species of fish caught off the coast near Fukushima are still banned for sale. The ban has hurt the area’s fishing industry, but some fisherman have resumed smaller operations, fishing for octopus, which has passed government radiation testing standards.

Since cesium levels aren’t usually present long term in salt water sea life, it is likely more cesium was released than previously thought. It is believed that as much as four-fifths of the nuclear material from Fukushima found its way to the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owned the plant, reports that more contaminated water is not being released, but a spokesman could not completely rule out leaks.

The company plans to build a massive wall to prevent further contamination of the waters, but the 2,400-foot wall will not be complete until 2014.

More than 40 percent of the Fukushima fish have tested with higher than safe levels of cesium.