Good news: Radiation in New Zealand food is not from Fukushima

Workers wearing radiation protective gear rest on a road at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power ...
Reuters

Workers wearing radiation protective gear rest on a road at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture.

Two post-Fukushima meltdown studies have found radiation in New Zealand food: but fear not - it is merely harmless remains from nuclear testing decades ago.

While conspiracy posts on social media may have people thinking that harmful levels of radiation were making their way to New Zealand, and into the seafood we eat, science has proven that is not the case.

After the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which caused a meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries commissioned two studies to look at radiation making its way into the New Zealand diet.

By examining 40 foods including farmed salmon, shellfish and wild fish they have found that the radioactive version of caesium at levels less than 0.1 per cent of the international guidance limit for contamination.

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MPI senior toxicology adviser Andrew Pearson said the Ministry of Health had been monitoring radiation in milk, rain, and soil  since the 1950s.

That meant they could compare the decay of the radioactive material found in recent tests and concluded it was from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

Not only were the elements expected to be found in Fukushima fallout not present, but modelling showed it would be about 10 years before it reached New Zealand - and by then it would not be at harmful levels, he said.

Following the peer-reviewed studies, MPI concluded there was "no evidence to suggest consumption of seafood presents a risk to consumers from radionuclides".

"MPI maintains an active watch on results and developments coming out of Japan relevant to Fukushima-Daiichi," a statement from MPI said.

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During the Fukushima meltdown radioactive isotopes were released from reactor containment vessels as a result of venting to reduce gaseous pressure. This led to the discharge of coolant water into the sea.

This forced Japanese authorities to create a 20-km exclusion zone around the power plant. Trace quantities of radioactive particles from the incident, including caesium, have since been detected around the world.

 

 - Stuff

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