Radioactive tuna alert | Inquirer Opinion

Radioactive tuna alert

/ 09:57 PM October 28, 2013

This is an open letter to President Aquino recommending random samplings of fish from our eastern seaboard and of tuna from General Santos, to test for possible radioactivity.

Recent developments include: 1) All blue-fin tuna tested in California are radioactive (blue-fin tuna spawns in California, goes to Japan south of Fukushima, then back to California); 2) In September, there was a leak of 300 tons of highly-contaminated water from Tank No. 5 in Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean; 3) There are recent reports of the secret evacuation of a village 40 kilometers from Fukushima due to radiation.


In a Stanford University study in May 2012, Nicholas Fisher said: “We found that absolutely EVERY ONE of [the tuna we tested] had comparable concentrations of cesium 134 and cesium 137.” That was over a year ago. Cesium does not sink and can be spread rapidly by ocean currents. When it is ingested, cell damage occurs, resulting in “nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding.” Long exposure results in loss of consciousness, coma, or death.

The “half-life” (or period when it loses its radiation by half) for cesium 134 is two years, and for cesium 137 30 years. This implies that there will be a semipermanent, seemingly-irreversible presence of radioactive fish in the entire Pacific in the next half-century.


Mycle Schneider reported in CNN that the nuclear fuels in three reactor buildings in Fukushima were continuously being cooled in the last two years and are contained in hundreds of temporary tanks to avoid fire or explosion. To date, the cumulative volume of contaminated water is about 400,000 tons, equal to “160 Olympic-size swimming pools.” As many as 400 tons of water are being added every day, which may reach 600,000 by 2015. It is not known how much the tanks can hold in the long term.

Japanese experts say that Fukushima may be releasing up to 93 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium into the ocean each day.

The tanks are bolted, not welded, which may enhance leakage. There are 400 km of vinyl pipes which are prone to leaking in winter due to frost. The leak last September from Tank No. 5 involved a frightening 300 tons of highly radioactive water, discovered when its water level fell by three meters. “Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) reportedly admitted that only 60 of 350 tanks in that area are equipped with volume gauges.”

Said Schneider: “Nobody knows how far the molten fuel went through the containment. Radiation levels in the reactor buildings are lethal, while robots got stuck in the rubble and some never came back out.”

Schneider reported a “pattern of denial” from Tepco, which oversees intervention measures. Columnist Allen Roland wrote of a global media cover-up: “The issues of radioactive exposure are considered taboo in the Japanese media, as they are in the American mainstream media.”

Another earthquake may cause the reactor buildings to collapse, which may result in a massive spent-fuel fire, “releasing its entire radioactive inventory.” It may also result in a massive overflow of tanks, with hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive water released into the Pacific Ocean.

Schneider cited “Tepco’s inability to stabilize the site, and the dramatic failure of the Japanese government, now the majority owner of Tepco.” He added that Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority seems “too busy trying to help restart the country’s stranded reactors to put adequate attention on stabilizing the Fukushima site.”


He called for an International Task Force Fukushima, with “a core group of about a dozen [international] experts” to help Tepco and Japan.

The Pacific Ocean has two major currents in the northern equatorial zone—the Oyashio current in the north, and the Kuroshio current in the south. The Kuroshio current moves clockwise from Japan, south of Fukushima, east toward California where blue-fin tuna spawn, then south to Mexico, west toward the Philippines in the vicinity of Samar, then north back to Japan. This suggests the possibility of radiated fish coming to Philippine shores.

Increased incidence of congenital thyroid problem was reported last April in the US West Coast and Hawaii among infants born within nine months of the Fukushima meltdown. President Barack Obama reportedly denied the threat and ordered the Environment Protection Agency to stop radiation tests. A toxicologist, Dr. Jane Sherman, suggested that thousands of Americans may have died due to radiation.

To avoid being caught flatfooted, the Philippines must set up a medium-term proactive program to monitor diseases, especially among children, as well as fish from the entire eastern seaboard and tuna from Gensan.

Bernie Lopez ([email protected] com) has been writing political commentaries for the last 20 years. He is also a radio-TV broadcaster.

Your daily dose of fearless views

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: fisheries, food security, news, pollution, radiation, Tuna
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2022 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.