Tiny Fish Spur Widening Worry
Japan Discovers High Radiation Levels in One Species, Stoking Environmental and Safety Concerns
By JURO OSAWA and YOREE KOH in Tokyo and DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI in Kesennuma, Japan, The Wall Street Journal
APRIL 6, 2011
Officials from Tepco and the agency have said repeatedly that the level of radiation that has seeped into the sea over the past two weeks-while measured at highly elevated levels right near the plant-posed no major immediate threat to humans or to the environment, because the water disperses quickly into the vast ocean. But the contaminated fish were caught about 50 miles south of the reactors, well beyond the 12.5-mile evacuation perimeter.
One sample of konago caught Friday contained twice the permissible level of radioactive iodine-131, which has a half-life of eight days and which can accumulate in the thyroid in humans, possibly raising the risk of thyroid cancer. The other konago sample, caught Monday, had just over the permissible limit for cesium, an element with an uncertain impact on human health. Three different types of cesium were discovered, one of which has a half-life of 30 years.
The reports of contaminated fish have followed reports of tainted produce including spinach and broccoli, as well as raw milk, in Fukushima prefecture and other areas close to the reactors. The reports of contaminated seafood are potentially more worrisome, because the contaminated seawater, and the fish, move in uncontrollable and untraceable paths.