Two fish caught off the coast near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been tested and show a record-setting 258 times the amount of radiation that the government deems safe for consumption. The pair of greenlings, or rock trout, were caught 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the crippled facility, and measured 25,800 becquerels of cesium per kilo, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). Officials were surprised at the find, for while fish that tested positive for radiation have been found before, they were never at levels this high.
TEPCO officials believe the highly radioactive fish had been feeding in areas that were seen as “hotspots” of radiation. The utility company has already planned to catch more fish for testing, as well as collecting their feed and soil from the seabed of the area, in order to determine the exact cause of the high levels. Since June of this year, fishermen have been given permission on an experimental basis to catch two kinds of fish in the area, as long as it’s at least 50 km (31 miles) from the Fukushima plant.
All catches have been tested for the safety of their radiation levels, with the previous record-high measuring 18,700 becquerels per kilo. The March 2011 nuclear disaster dispersed radiation into a wide area of the environment. In addition to the recently discovered mutations in butterflies, bluefin tuna testing positive for traces of radiation that couldn’t have come from anywhere but Fukushima have been found as far off as the California coast.