Anchor: With Japan set to release radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant this summer, safety concerns are mounting as fish caught in waters near the plant were found to contain radiation significantly beyond permissible levels. This has prompted local fishermen and nearby countries to raise safety concerns.
Our Bae Joo-yon has more.
Report: A fish containing levels of a radioactive element significantly exceeding Japan’s food safety standards was reportedly caught in waters near the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
According to Kyodo News on Wednesday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company(TEPCO) announced on Monday that a rockfish caught at a port near the plant in May contained 18-thousand becquerels of cesium per kilogram. The level is 180 times the threshold of 100 becquerels per kilogram set by the Japanese government as safe.
The Japanese government and TEPCO assert that a custom purification system will remove most types of radioactive materials from the contaminated water. TEPCO has also installed nets to prevent radioactive fish from moving out of the port in question.
Still, a number of fish containing significant amounts of cesium are found from time to time in waters far from the nuclear plant. Earlier in April, 12-hundred becquerels of cesium per kilogram were detected in a rock trout caught in the area.
Amid the emergence of such fish, officials of the Soma Futaba Fisheries Cooperative, which is headquartered near the plant, met with Japan’s economy minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, and expressed strong opposition to the planned water release.
The group stressed that efforts to revitalize the economy of Fukushima should not be ruined by the release of the contaminated water.
Pacific Islands countries neighboring Japan are also continuously voicing concerns over the planned discharge.
Lawmakers of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific, denounced Tokyo's plan to release the wastewater during a debate held last Saturday hosted by an association of Japanese lawyers, saying the water is a threat to their citizens’ lives.
Also last Saturday, Fiji’s home affairs and immigration minister, Pio Tikoduadua, refuted the assertion by Japanese defense minister Yasukazu Hamada that the Fukushima plant’s water is safe during the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum.
The Fijian minister expressed grave concerns over the possibility of the wastewater traveling southward, adding that he cannot help but wonder why Japan does not just keep the water if it is so safe.
Bae Joo-yon, KBS World Radio News.