Why is the Bee­hive ‘ra­dio in­ac­tive’?

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

An­other chap­ter over Fukushima and fish.

Last year, a fam­ily con­cern was over packed fish and we won­dered whether it came from ques­tion­able wa­ter sources in Asia. A fish­eries im­port­ing ex­ec­u­tive as­sured me it wasn’t.

‘‘No, no. It’s ac­tu­ally pro­cessed in China – but prob­a­bly net­ted by Rus­sian trawlers in the north­ern Pa­cific.’’

Which didn’t al­lay my con­cerns.

A Cana­dian high school­girl got me wor­ry­ing again.

Bron­wyn Delacruz never imag­ined that her school sci­ence project would make head­lines and cause me con­cern but that’s pre­cisely what has hap­pened.

Bron­wyn used a $600 Geiger counter bought by her fa­ther to mea­sure seafood bought at Al­berta gro­cery stores for ra­dioac­tive con­tam­i­na­tion.

Much of the seafood, par­tic­u­larly prod­ucts pro­cessed in China, tested with very high ra­di­a­tion lev­els.

So is this be­ing caused by nu­clear ra­di­a­tion from Fukushima? Is the seafood, sourced in its wrap­ping to China, risk­ing cancer and other dis­eases?

Bron­wyn con­ducted her sci­ence project af­ter the Cana­dian Govern­ment stopped test­ing im­ported seafood for ra­di­a­tion. She loves sushi but be­came con­cerned af­ter learn­ing how lit­tle food in­spec­tion ac­tu­ally takes place on some of its key in­gre­di­ents.

She was shocked to dis­cover that, in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nu­clear dis­as­ter in Ja­pan, the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion Agency stopped test­ing im­ported foods for ra­di­a­tion in 2012.

She stud­ied a va­ri­ety of seafoods – par­tic­u­larly seaweeds – as part of an award-win­ning sci­ence project she will take to a na­tional fair.

‘‘Some kelp I found was higher than what the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency sets as ra­dioac­tive con­tam­i­na­tion which is 1450 counts over a 10-minute pe­riod. Some of my sam­ples came up as 1700 or 1800.’’

Sam­ples that ‘‘lit up’’ the most were prod­ucts from China bought in lo­cal stores. Ques­tion: Are they from the same sources that are in Auck- land freez­ers – ‘‘Prod­uct of China’’, but caught in the north­ern Pa­cific? And it’s not just China. In 2012, the Van­cou­ver Sun re­ported that ce­sium-137 was found in a very high per­cent­age of the fish Ja­pan was sell­ing to Canada:

73 per cent mack­erel

91 per cent of the hal­ibut

92 per sar­dines

93 per cent tuna and eel

94 per cent of the cod and an­chovies

100 per cent of the carp, sea­weed, shark and monk­fish

From a re­cent EcoWatch ar­ti­cle:

‘‘Woods Hole Oceano­graphic In­sti­tu­tion is an Amer­i­can pri­vate, non-profit re­search and higher ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­ity ded­i­cated to the study of all as­pects of ma­rine sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing and to the ed­u­ca­tion of ma­rine re­searchers.

‘‘Sci­en­tists from the in­sti­tute who have been test­ing wa­ters around the re­ac­tors – as well as around the Pa­cific Rim – con­firm the lev­els of Fukushima fall­out,

cent

of the

of the

of the es­pe­cially of ce­sium.

‘‘The Ja­panese are test­ing off the coast of Ja­pan and one fish re­cently caught off Fukushima was dis­cov­ered to have 124 times the safe level of ra­dioac­tive ce­sium.

‘‘A test in Cal­i­for­nia dis­cov­ered that all of 15 bluefin tuna tested were con­tam­i­nated with ra­di­a­tion from Fukushima. Re­searchers say a plume of ra­dioac­tive wa­ter has been mov­ing from Fukushima to­ward the Amer­i­can west coast.’’

Are we wait­ing un­til fish glow in the dark be­fore we set up test­ing what could be a po­ten­tial source of ra­dioac­tive ce­sium?

How long be­fore New Zealand of­fi­cials re­port on im­ported fish here?

Why aren’t they check­ing to make sure that this killer ra­di­a­tion is not get­ting into our food chain al­ready?

Ra­di­a­tion test­ing: Must we wait for it to glow in the dark?

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