Highly irradiated fish caught near crippled Japan N-plant

Tokyo, Jan 12 (IANS/EFE) Japanese authorities have detected radiation levels 124 times higher than the accepted limit in a fish caught in waters near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, a media report said.

The government-affiliated Fisheries Research Agency said Friday that the black sea bream had 12,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, far above the maximum limit of 100 becquerels per kg allowed for foodstuffs, the Asahi daily reported.

The fish was caught Nov 17 at the mouth of the Niidagawa River in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, 37 km (23 miles) from the Fukushima plant, which was battered by a powerful March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

It was one of 37 black sea bream caught in and off Iwaki to study their radiation levels.

The agency said it would conduct further studies to determine when the fish was contaminated with such high levels of radioactive cesium.

Two other fish also had radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s food-safety standards, containing 426 becquerels per kg and 197 becquerels per kilo, respectively.

The readings of the other 34 black sea bream, a species that is no longer sold at fish markets in the affected region, showed levels of contamination below the accepted limit, the agency said.

Black sea bream fishing is currently restricted off the coasts of Fukushima, Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures.

After the nuclear disaster, Japan lowered its ceiling for allowable cesium in foodstuffs from 500 becquerels per kg to 100 becquerels per kilo, or six times stricter than European Union standards.