Radiation Found In Seaweed Near Crippled
By Mari Saito
Seaweed collected from the coast near Japan's crippled
Fukushima nuclear power plant and sewage in Tokyo have shown
elevated levels of radiation, according to data released by
an environmental group and government officials on Friday.
The findings, released separately by Greenpeace and Tokyo
government officials, underline the difficulty of containing
the water-borne spread of radiation from the Fukushima
nuclear plant, which was seriously damaged by a March 11
earthquake and tsunami, triggering a still-unfolding crisis.
Operator Tokyo Electric Power has poured massive amounts of
water on four of the reactors at the plant to cool the fuel
they contain, but struggled to keep the radioactive water
from leaking out to the sea.
Environmental critics have also raised worries about
contaminated water seeping into the water table.
Greenpeace said that 10 of the 22 seaweed samples it had
collected at sea near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
had shown radiation levels as much as five times the
standard set by Japan for food.
"Radioactive contamination is accumulating in the marine
ecosystem that provides Japan with a quarter of its seafood,
yet the authorities are still doing very little to protect
public health," Ike Teuling, Greenpeace radiation expert,
said in a statement.
On Wednesday, Tepco sealed a leak of contaminated water
found near the No. 3 reactor that may have seeped into the
Pacific Ocean from the coastal plant. A previous ocean leak
sparked international concern about the impact of the
disaster on the environment.
Radiation in food and other substances is measured in
Becquerel. The limit set for food by Japan is 2,000
Becquerel (Bq) per kg for radioactive Iodine-131 and 500 Bq/kg
for radioactive cesium.
Greenpeace said 10 of its seaweed samples had shown
radiation levels over 10,000 Bq/kg. Some types of seaweed
are a staple of the Japanese diet.
Goshi Hosono, a special adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan
on the nuclear crisis, said the government would look into
the finding by Greenpeace.
"I don't want to ignore this and the government will do its
own follow-up study as needed," Hosono told reporters.
Separately, government officials in Tokyo said radiation
levels in sewage had spiked in late March. The data was
released this week in conjunction with a new government
standard intended to contain the spread of radiation in
Combined radiation levels of cesium and others in waste
burned at the sewage treatment plant in Tokyo spiked to
170,000 Bq/kg in the immediate wake of the Fukushima nuclear
crisis, officials said on Friday.
The radiation level was measured on March 25, just over two
weeks after the earthquake.
Akiko Matsumoto, spokeswoman for the Tokyo Bureau of Sewage
said the radiation figure is a composite of cesium and
The Japanese government did not set a guideline for
radioactive material in sewage until Thursday, when they
announced that any solid waste with a cesium level of
100,000 Bq/kg or above should be incinerated and then sealed
in a container.
Matsumoto said the bureau did not know the reason behind the
sudden jump in radiation levels. "One theory is that the
radiation from Fukushima was carried by rain," she said.
The overall radiation level in Tokyo sewage had dropped to
16,000 Bq/kg by April 28.