Health Front: Radioactive Fish Caught Off California Coast

By DR. JERRY DeCAPUA, TRT Contributing Writer

•A new report released by researchers from Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station finds Bluefin tuna caught just off the California coast tested positive for radiation stemming from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Radioactive Cesium was found in 100% of the tuna caught. Cesium itself is not safe and most people would be smart to not consume tuna from the Pacific Ocean. The question unanswered is whether the cesium is going to continue to accumulate, and can it be spreading to other species of fish.

Reports on the effects on seals seem to have been delayed. The test results from the University of Alaska’s study of radiation in seals have not been released and seem long overdue. Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the damaged Fukushima Nuclear plant, stated that local rock trout contained 510 becquerels of cesium per kilogram. That is the most ever detected in any fish and about 5,100 times the safe limit. Tokyo Power wanted to comfort anyone concerned and decided to put up a net to guard contaminated fish from migrating out of the disaster area. The idea of an already overwhelmed company whose business is nuclear science trying to grapple with catching runaway fish with nets may be somewhat disconcerting and peculiar, rather than comforting to most people.

Making people feel comfy about the leaked radiation appears be an industry in itself. Don’t Worry, Inc. seems to be developing quite a few press releases. The World Health Organization (WHO) two years ago put out an early bulletin stating that “although emergency workers had some of the highest radiation exposure, they had yet to demonstrate acute radiation effects. The only effects that are expected in this group are possible thyroid disorders in those few workers who inhaled.” The early WHO statement was supposed to be reassuring, almost identical to their response to Chernobyl, a similar disaster in Russia.

The nuclear industry may have been the ones that felt most comfortable by the WHO’s initial statement.

However, a few years later it is hard to hide the fact that 42% of 52,000 tested children near Fukushima have thyroid nodules or cysts. This is far more diagnosed cases than was seen after Chernobyl.  . In 2001 only 0.8% of Japanese children had thyroid abnormalities.

Surprisingly, officials still do not want to make a strong link to the nuclear industry, and suggest that “maybe there is just too much iodine in seafood, and that the kids eat too much seafood.”  The blame is now going to the fish, who at this time have not yet hired a public relations firm for a proper response.

Most people in Japan do not believe it to be a simple disconnect. They consider it an attempt to cover up the entrenched and well protected nuclear industry. Meanwhile, the parents of Fukushima children seem to be taking their children to the clinics for an unusually high number of cases of nose bleeds, skin rashes and diarrhea. As the children keep coming back to the clinics for treatment, the obedient parents are uncertain as to what to do.

On the coast of California, there is a deep sea kelp forest at Corona del Mar that now contains concentrations of radiation that are 250 times higher than levels found in kelp prior to the Japanese nuclear accidents. A research article published in Scientific American reports that radiation accumulated in fish that ate near the kelp. “If they were feeding on it, they certainly got dosed,” said Steven Manley, a Cal State biology professor who specializes in kelp. Presently, there is no research as to what is the exact effect on fish and their offspring will be from the increased levels of radiation that are being found.

There appeared to be extraordinary amounts of mutations and drastic decreases in wildlife populations around the Chernobyl accident. Wildlife could not reproduce. We do know that 3 million people had serious health conditions after Chernobyl.  Around Fukushima bird populations have decreased dramatically, reports a study of 300 sites near Fukushima from the University of South Carolina. The bird population drop at Fukushima is twice as much as it was at Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The Japanese government has banned both the domestic sale and international export of most fish that are caught off the Fukushima coast. Radiation levels are still rising two years after the nuclear accidents. In January of 2013 the tested levels of cesium were about 2,540 times what is considered safe for human consumption. Strontium levels are 240 times the legal limit. This means that there is an ongoing contamination.

It is likely that the area of contamination is not being contained by mere fishing nets. It will be years before a complete picture and full know the extent of radioactive contamination in ocean fish supply. It might be best if marine research is conducted locally with our own coastal seals, and with transparent results updated every six months.

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March 8th, 2013

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