Tests find radioactive contaminants not present in Alaska seafood

The latest research finds that the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which shook Japan and the world four years ago, has not had a negative effect on Alaskan seafood.

According to health authorities from the Food and Drug Administration, radioactive contamination has not been present in Alaska salmon, cod, halibut and other species. Samples were acquired for most of Alaska’s prominent salmon species including king, chum, sockeye and pink salmon. Halibut, pollock, sablefish and Pacific cod were also put to the test in 2014.

After a devastating 9.0 earthquake produced a 130-foot wave on 11 March 2011 which went on to decimate much of Japan – leaving 16,000 people dead and 2,600 missing – the nuclear plant complex at Fukushima suffered several meltdowns. As the Associated Press reports, a worldwide fear of “radionuclides, or radioactive isotopes” was born, with many in the Alaska seafood industry fretting over radioactive materials drifting eastward. This was especially present when boats and buoys from Japan came ashore in Alaska that year.

Even though sampling of Alaskan seafood has never yielded any radioactive results, the misinformation is still rampant, the AP found.

"I get calls from all across the country," said Marlena Brewer, an environmental protection specialist for the Division of Environmental Health, to the AP. "I've even had international calls with concerns about Alaska seafood."

Not only has sampling lifted no radioactive materials from Alaska’s fish – predictive ocean modeling has also indicated that Alaska seafood is not at risk for potential Fukushima contaminants, as was found by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Department officials were able to sample the fish directly thanks to an arrangement with the FDA.

The fish results were in congruence with water-quality sampling conducted by Cook Inletkeeper, a non-profit, in 2014. Scientists told the AP that “concentrations of Fukushima radioactive isotopes in North Pacific waters could peak in 2015.”


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