Fukushima a threat to Pacific people?
Goettingen, Germany (UPI) Mar 30, 2011
Radioactivity unleashed by the Japanese Fukushima reactor into the Pacific Ocean endangers the livelihoods of millions of people, a German aid group warned.
"Several hundred million people depend on fishing in the Pacific Ocean for their livelihoods, among them many indigenous people on the islands," Ulrich Delius, an Asia expert for the Society for Endangered People, said in a statement released Wednesday.
Plutonium has been detected in soil at several locations near the earthquake-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, which was severely damaged by the March 11 magnitude-9 earthquake.
Harmful radiation levels have also been detected in water in a trench outside the reactor building, Japanese officials said Monday. The contaminated water is suspected to have come from the reactor's core, where fuel rods partially melted.
While it's unclear whether contaminated water has seeped into the sea, officials said they suspected the high concentration of radioactive substances found in seawater near the plant may be linked to the trench water.
Delius said claims by some Japanese scientists said that the radioactivity found in fish will be concentrated in the bones, and thus not harmful to humans, didn't make sense.
"Each year, thousands of tons of fish and their bones are processed into fish meal, animal food and in part to fish sticks," he said.
Delius added that the Pacific's indigenous people living on the many islands already had to suffer from the many large-scale nuclear bomb tests the United States, Britain and France conducted there.
Many indigenous people still suffer from the radiation that has since made it into the eco-chain, Delius said.
"For them, the Pacific Ocean is supermarket, living room and drugstore at the same time," he said. "Nowhere do people foster such close connection to the sea than on the Pacific islands."
Meanwhile, authorities in the Philippines said they aren't too worried about the future.
The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute said Wednesday that its waters showed traces of radioactivity but that the worst was over.
"In general, dilutions by ocean currents and into deeper waters as well as decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes such as Iodine-131 will soon lead to lower values," the institute said, according to ABS-CBN News.
While it's not clear how far the radioactivity will travel, it's certain that the people living of fishing and farming seaweed in eastern Japan will be affected.
Radiation levels in the sea near the Fukushima plant have risen to more than 3,000 times above the legal limit, the BBC reports.
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