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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How Fukushima Contamination May Have Spread via Waterways

Fresh water fish in Japan, study reveals how quickly the radiation spread

A new study offers fresh insights into how radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster may have spread through Japan’s interconnected waterways, reaching some freshwater fish hundreds of kilometers away.

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The research by two Japanese academics published in “Nature” magazine late last month reports traces of cesium found in 2011 “even in Shizuoka prefecture, 400 km south-west from the plant.”

Although the data had been available the year of the accident from the Japanese government’s fisheries agency, this is the first time the data has been compiled and analyzed to try and assess exactly how — and how far — the damage had spread....

Research for the article was conducted at The Center for Risk Research at Shiga University in western Japan.

As part of their research, the authors focused in particular on contamination of freshwater fish throughout Japan — as opposed to contamination in saltwater fish considered to have had the greatest exposure, due to the large dumping of radioactive water into the waters off the shore of the stricken plant in the weeks after the accident.

The Nature article, based on data collected in 2011, notes that radioactive cesium in freshwater fish in several locations, particularly near Fukushima, were well above the official government levels considered safe for consumption. While fish near Fukushima still exceed the safety levels, recent tests have shown little contamination in freshwater sources outside the immediate area.

So far government officials have been slow in reacting to the fish-as-monitor idea however, he said.

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