Marine scientists have discovered that the levels of radioactivity in fish near the disaster-struck Fukushima nuclear plant are just as high as they were 18 months ago. The results of the study, released on Thursday, point to a “continuing source” of radiation,” meaning there is still radiation being leaked into the ocean. Even worse, scientists believe fish from the area may be too dangerous to eat for several decades to come.
In the study, released in the U.S. journal Science, marine scientist Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says the most surprising fact was that the levels of radioactivity found in some of the fish were not going down, as expected. He says that not all fish were found with high levels of radioactive cesium, about 60% had low enough levels to be considered safe to eat. That remaining 40%, however, would not meet Japan’s safety regulations. It’s important to note though that all the fisheries near the Fukushima plant have been close since the disaster, so there is no chance that fish from this area have been caught and sold to the public.
Buesseler says the lack of decline in the radioactivity means there is either a source of cesium somewhere on the seafloor, or it is being discharged into the sea by contaminated groundwater. If it’s in the seafloor, the scientist adds, it will probably be decades for it to go away, and just as long for fishing in the area to be safe once again. His findings show that just because you don’t hear about this kind of information in the news (especially Japanese media), doesn’t mean the effects of the disaster have gone away. It also reveals just how impossible it is to predict the outcome of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and how widespread and long-lasting the fallout will be.[via Radio Netherlands]