Two minke whales caught in Hokkaido were found to be contaminated with radioactive caesium. (Photo: Stock File/reef.crc.org.au)
Radioactive caesium found in whales
Thursday, June 16, 2011, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Two minke whales hunted off Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido were found to be contaminated with radioactive caesium. The whales were harpooned 650 km north-east of a nuclear plant damaged by the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that struck last March.
Researchers examined six of the 17 whales in Hokkaido’s Kushiro city and found 31 Bq and 24.3 Bq of radioactive caesium per kg in the two whales, reports SAPA.
The limit for radioactive substances is of 500 Bq per kg, such that the whales’ caesium content is far below Japan's maximum safe limit for marine products.
"There is no data available to compare whether the readings for radioactive materials are higher than normal," a fisheries agency official said this week, reports Times LIVE. "We will continue to monitor the development, as we do for all seafood and marine life caught in the Pacific."
Officials from the country's Fisheries Agency blamed the contamination on the ongoing radioactive crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which continues to leak radioactive substances into the surrounding environment, including the Pacific Ocean.
The latest results on caesium come just days after strontium was found in groundwater near the plant's Number One and Number Two reactors. The compound can build up in bones and cause bone cancer and leukemia; it has been confirmed that strontium up to 240 times the legal limit was found in ocean waters adjacent to the plant, reports ABC News.
This month, radioactive caesium was detected in leaves at a tea factory in the city of Shizuoka some 360 km from the stricken plant in Fukushima.
Moreover, conservation group Greenpeace last month communicated findings of massive levels of radioactive contamination in seaweed and other marine life in the Pacific roughly 20 km off Fukushima. The high levels of radioactive caesium and iodine were 50 times higher than official limits.
- Greenpeace slams Japan for inadequate handling of radiation woes
- Fishery association demands compensation from TEPCO
By Natalia Real