WTF? US Buys Radioactive Fukushima Fish Despite Other Countries’ Bans (Video)

Written by Michael Anderson.

Last month, Japan released treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean for the fifth time. This action has sparked opposition from scientists, environmental organizations, local fishing groups, residents, and neighboring countries, who are concerned about the potential impacts on human health and the environment.

Despite these concerns, the United States has committed to purchasing seafood from Japan. The Defender reports that Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, attempted to quell fears by releasing a video of himself eating Fukushima fish, declaring it “safe and delicious.” Additionally, Japan’s economic minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, publicly consumed sashimi in Tokyo, praising its quality. However, this did not prevent China, Russia, and South Korea from banning Japanese seafood imports due to fears of radioactive contamination.

US Military’s Seafood Purchase

In October 2023, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel announced that the U.S. military would buy large quantities of Japanese seafood for service members stationed at bases in Japan. This move is part of a broader strategy to offset China’s ban on Japanese seafood. Emanuel stated that the contract between Japanese fisheries and the U.S. armed forces would be long-term, beginning with the purchase of a metric ton of scallops, with plans to eventually include all types of seafood.

Emanuel also mentioned that the U.S. is in discussions with Japanese authorities to direct locally caught scallops to U.S.-registered processors. Furthermore, the U.S. is reviewing its overall fish imports from both Japan and China. To protest China’s decision to ban Japanese seafood, the Japanese embassy hosted a sushi-tasting event at the U.S. Capitol about a month before Emanuel’s announcement.

The Extent of Radioactive Water

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns Fukushima Daiichi, began periodic releases of large amounts of wastewater last year. This water has accumulated at the plant since the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The earthquake destroyed the plant’s cooling system, leading TEPCO to continuously pump water to cool the reactor core’s fuel rods, resulting in highly radioactive contaminated water.

This radioactive water is stored in tanks, currently holding about 1.3 million metric tons—enough to fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Japan claims it is running out of storage space and needs the land to build facilities for safely decommissioning the plant. TEPCO has been filtering most radioactive material out of the water and releasing it after the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determined in July 2023 that TEPCO’s discharge plan met international safety standards and would have only a “negligible” effect on humans and the environment.

Opposing Views on Water Release

Before the IAEA’s approval, the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML), comprising the 100 most prestigious marine institutions in the U.S., called for the discharge plan to be suspended in 2022. NAML, Greenpeace, and other opponents argue that the risks have not been properly assessed and that TEPCO has not provided sufficient data to determine the safety of the release.

The ongoing debate reflects a significant divide between those who trust the IAEA’s assessment and those who believe that more caution and transparency are needed. The long-term effects of these discharges remain a contentious issue, with the potential for far-reaching implications for marine life and human health.

Our Take

The decision by the U.S. to purchase seafood from Japan, despite other countries’ bans, is a risky move. This choice prioritizes diplomatic relations and military logistics over public health concerns. The lack of consensus among scientists and environmental groups about the safety of the Fukushima water releases highlights the need for more thorough investigations and transparent reporting. It is crucial to ensure that the seafood supply is safe for consumption to avoid potential health risks.

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