Seafood imports from Japan indicate radiation contamination


By Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka is not subject to any direct impact on its marine environment due to radioactive releases from the Fukushima accident, according to a comprehensive study. But radiation levels, particularly in seafood items imported from Japan, had noticeably increased an expert said.

Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) National Project Coordinator, Director Life Sciences Head Wijeya A. Waduge said yesterday the study had been carried out with technical know-how from the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA).

Following the study, Sri Lanka had successfully established baseline data for marine radioactivity around it, he said, noting that Sri Lanka had not reached the radiation danger zone, but it was time for all relevant stakeholders to be on the alert. Investigations were conducted to ascertain the varying radiation levels that already exist in the country.

Waduge said that radiation levels, particularly in seafood items imported from Japan, had noticeably increased. He attributed the high level to the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Plant.

However, he said that radiation levels were below the danger level of 100 Becquerel (BQ), with the readings indicating the level varying between 15 and 20 (BQ).

Some 40 surface sediment samples and fourteen sea water samples and several biota samples were collected from the sea at several locations around Sri Lanka during the period February 2012 to October 2013 for the study.

Waduge said that the absence of cesium-134 in sediments and seawater suggested that there was no direct impact from Fukushima nuclear accident’s radioactive release on the marine sediment and seawater around Sri Lanka.

Fresh fish samples collected from the local catch were also analysed for possible contamination for the radio nuclides cesium -137 and -134 during the past two-year period. Results showed that none of the samples was contaminated or influenced by the Fukushima nuclear accident, Waduge said. "This is the first such recorded data available for Cesium-137 and Cesium-134 in the sea water and sea sediment in Sri Lanka, the finding of this work will definitely be of immense use in the future," he added.

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