Fukushima row: Hong Kong government adviser urges Japan to expand monitoring of seafood to cover more radioactive elements

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Japan should expand its monitoring of seafood to cover more radioactive substances to assess the full impact of the release of nuclear waste water from the stricken Fukushima power plant, a leading Hong Kong government adviser said on Monday.

Professor Kenneth Leung Mei-yee, who chairs the Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene, told a radio programme that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had only released a report on the levels of tritium in seawater samples but left out other radioactive materials and seabed sediments.

Leung said other radioactive substances that could not be identified in the tests could cling to material that sank to the seabed and formed into sediments over time. The concentration of radiation levels would eventually increase to a detectable amount in the deep-sea ground, he added.

Fukushima row: Hong Kong government adviser urges Japan to expand monitoring of seafood to cover more radioactive elements - Informative Updates™
The Japanese power company says it plans to continue taking daily seawater samples for analysis. Photo: AP

“We have to consider how reliable the data is given it was unilaterally released by TEPCO. I hope Japan will allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to run the tests to see if their findings are in line with theirs. Matching reports will help regain the confidence of the public,” he said.

The power company, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, released its report last Friday showing no detectable amount of tritium had been found in seawater samples taken from 10 locations within a distance of 3km (2 miles) of the nuclear plant, hours after the water discharge began the day before.

Leung, also the chair professor of the department of chemistry at City University, said more than 1,000 water tanks had stored the radioactive waste water over the past 12 years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, accounting for more than 1 million metric tons of treated water.

Full release of Hong Kong tests on seafood from Japan and city waters possible

He said Japan might only release the water from the tanks that had been storing it for a shorter period of time as the liquid in the ones that had kept it for a longer duration was “way more contaminated” and could cause the current processing system for dilution to overload.

The Japanese power company said it planned to continue taking daily seawater samples for analysis and would publicly disclose the results the following day for about a month.

The Ministry of Environment of Japan also said it would analyse seawater samples every week for about three months.

Leung said keeping an eye on the reports in the long run was paramount as he expected a third party such as the IAEA to contribute to the testing and verify if the data from Japan was reliable.

Hong Kong unlikely to extend seafood ban beyond 10 Japanese prefectures: minister

Hong Kong Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan on Sunday said authorities would consider releasing the full details of their radioactivity test results on seafood imported from Japan and marine produce from city waters.

Current test results released by the government only showed whether samples had passed or failed.

Hong Kong banned aquatic products from Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano and Saitama, last Thursday.

The city is Japan’s top market for fisheries exports, while the mainland is the second-largest.

The city imported Japanese marine products worth about 51.6 billion yen in the first six months of the year, accounting for a quarter of the country’s exports for the sector, according to official figures from the country.

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