The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is nearing its third anniversary and the disaster and radiation are still being felt around the globe, most recently in the North American west coast where the hit is being felt by Canadians, Mexicans and US citizens alike.
It is believed that an area of ocean as far as ten miles distant from the nuclear power plant was contaminated by the disaster in March of 2011. With ocean tides and sea life which is by no means confined to only miles within the ocean, that contamination was easily spread. It presents its most dangerous form in radioactive seafood and fish, which can be caught nearly anywhere and brought to the table in various countries. Surprisingly, seafood captured on the Pacific coast may be far more likely to contain radionuclides from the disaster than seafood from the Sea of Okhotsky, which is actually much closer to Japan. The world ocean currents are said to be responsible for this trend.
According to the Global Research Report, recent tests in California have unearthed contaminated blue-fin tuna in nearby coastal waters. It is believed that the contaminated water has finally reached the western coastline due to the growth of radioactive iodine levels which are now 200 times what they were two years ago. In addition, the caesium-137 level has also gone up along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, discovered in local mushrooms and berries. Residents have also noted that the number of bird deaths has risen. In Alaska, the sockeye salmon population has declined apparently due to radionuclides as well.
Checking an entire catch of fish for radiation is nearly impossible according to the Eco-Protection International environmental group, which is what makes the hit of radiation contaminated water from Fukushima so dangerous for the US West Coast.
Japan has been feeling the radiation fears for nearly two years now in its fishing industry. South Korea banned Japanese seafood and fish imports in September, becoming the first country to do so but possibly not the last. Fish factories near the nuclear site must now measure for radiation, but still cannot convince the buying public that the fish are safe to eat, especially with some claiming that fish caught within 20 miles of the Fukushima power plant are mostly radiated and have to be dumped. Russia Today revealed that some of the fish said to be thrown away do actually make it to local fish markets, where they might be consumed, radiation and all.
Experts say that exposure to the radiation definitely can increase the probability of developing cancer, especially leukemia and thyroid cancer. Those who were exposed in Japan, especially children, have a higher risk. Anna Sablina, a cancer researcher at the University of Leuven, projected that some 5,000 children may develop thyroid cancer due to the accident.
The crew of the US Ronald Reagan, which was within ten miles of the Fukushima plant when the meltdown occurred, are also experiencing problems and are filing a lawsuit against the company that ran the nuclear power plant. In using ocean water they had desalted for cooking, some of the crew has gone blind as well as developed cancerous diseases.
While it is unlikely that any radiation from fish or water hitting the US West Coast will cause such dramatic effects, the danger and fallout of Fukushima will linger on. Consequences have not yet been fully vetted and it is unlikely the full effects will be known until many years to come.
By Marisa Corley