Our team of radiation experts has found high levels of radiation in seafood caught by Japanese fishermen off the coast of Japan. This, along with the news that the Japanese government covered up the true extent of radiation releases from Fukushima and so put people in danger, shows it is long past time that urgent, transparent action was taken by officials.
At a press conference in Japan earlier today (video here and here), we explained how our radiation experts had visited ports in Iwaki prefecture between 22nd and 24th of July and conducted sampling of seafood with the help from local fishermen. The French laboratories ACRO and CRIIRAD analysed the radioactive contamination and detected high levels of radioactivity in a number of samples. This means that the contamination of the Fukushima coast is still very serious.
Greenpeace has therefore requested the Japanese government to make the labelling of seafood products mandatory and to indicate the radiation levels and fishing area, as supermarkets are not providing enough information to their customers. Radiation monitoring procedures should also be strengthened and food distribution regulations tightened.
All this should be done as urgently as possible. Trawl fishing season is about to begin in Fukushima and Ibaraki. This is now a race against time – seafood is a huge part of the Japanese diet. Unlike for beef, laws are not in place to trace the origin of fish and seafood. Relying on the government’s inadequate monitoring does not guarantee people’s safety if contaminated seafood reaches the market.
Meanwhile, it seems some government officials are more interested in saving their jobs than in the lives of the people they serve. According to the New York Times, government forecasts about the spread of airborne contamination in the initial aftermath of the Fukushima disaster…
…were left unpublicized by bureaucrats in Tokyo, operating in a culture that sought to avoid responsibility and, above all, criticism. Japan’s political leaders at first did not know about the system and later played down the data, apparently fearful of having to significantly enlarge the evacuation zone — and acknowledge the accident’s severity.
Not only that but evidence that at least one of the Fukushima reactors had suffered a potentially catastrophic meltdown was found by inspectors just one day after the March 11th tsunami but was kept secret for months.
This approach to the crisis cannot continue. The Japanese government’s handling of this crisis has been extremely poor. It should now begin to make amends by ensuring public safety and restoring people’s trust. Meaningful and transparent action is needed immediately.
(Greenpeace’s marine research data can be seen here.)