Just when the local fishermen and fisheries cooperatives in Fukushima have decided to start test-fishing whitebait and other fish this September, nuclear operator TEPCO spoiled the plan when it confirmed on Monday the long-suspected contaminated waters reaching the sea. The enraged reactions from fishermen were understandable, as the electric company has not yet settled the issues and problems that arose following the Fukushima power plant disaster two years ago. Some of the fishermen also questioned the timing of TEPCO’s announcement.
“We believe that contaminated water has flown out to the sea,” TEPCO announced through a spokesperson on Monday. With the confirmation, fishermen are unlikely to pursue their trade in the prefecture. “We have worked so hard to catch 15 types of fish that came in under the national limit for radioactive contamination screening,” said Chairman Hiroyuki Sato of the Soma-Futaba. The fishery cooperative started its test-fishing last summer, but will not be able to productively pursue the test-fishing because of TEPCO’s announcement.
Managing Director Tsunemasa Niitsuma and other TEPCO officials visited the fishery cooperative in Iwaki on Monday afternoon to personally explain the situation and its implication, especially to the livelihood of the fishermen. Besides the late confession, TEPCO was also questioned for its choice of date, “the day after the [House of Councillors] election,” informing the public about the contaminated ground water. TEPCO has already lost the favour of Fukushima communities and has caused a growing hostility toward the electric company. However, Iwaki’s fishery cooperative association chairman Masakazu Yabuki believed that the rehabilitation of Fukushima is not limited to TEPCO. “Its TEPCO and the national government’s responsibility to restore the ocean in Fukushima,” Masakazu said.