Radioactive Water Dumped Into Pacific Ocean Off Japan: Still Safe to Eat Sushi?

News 2011/04/05 15:00:00
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If you’re the kind of person who loves sushi, there’s not a whole lot that will deter you from eating your beloved raw slices of fish. Though your friends might cringe at the sight of you gobbling down cold, uncooked hunks of tuna, The New York Times may have the news that will get you to ponder your next Philly Roll.

In the latest desperate attempt to stave off a full-on nuclear core meltdown, the Tokyo Electric Power Company started dumping more than 11,000 tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday.

And they’re not done. The dump was merely to make room in storage containers for yet more contaminated runoff that will be released over the next few days. The dirty water has nearly 100 times the legal limit of radiation, with some tainted with 10,000 times the legal limit.

The effort may help the workers attempting to clear radioactive water from the turbine buildings reach the cooling controls that were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But the radioactive flow could keep coming, especially since workers have not been able to plug a gushing leak from a crack in a containment pit near the No. 2 reactor.

Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, has ordered the power company to monitor the effects of radioactive dumps on Pacific sea life. The Times reported that consuming seafood caught in the area every day for a year would result in the intake of about 0.6 millisieverts of radiation, or a quarter of the average annual exposure to radiation in Japan.

But considering it could be months before the radioactive flow is stemmed, marine biologists fear fish could bear the brunt of contamination. Some of the elements in the dumped water, like cesium 137, with a half-life of 30 years, are collected in larger fish as they eat smaller fish, which could magnify the problem over time. The good news is that mixing radioactive water with uncontaminated seawater can quickly decrease radiation levels, but in the meantime, radiation levels 19 miles offshore are hundreds to thousands of times as high as levels sampled in the same area in 2005.

Seafood sales have already taken a hit, as the price of fish such as young yellowtail have fallen by half in recent days, even though one large fishery owner said his fishermen have found on traces of radioactivity so far. But, he worried, when tides shift from north to south in the fall that could all change.

Will you still eat sushi?
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Top Opinion

  • Liza Jane 2011/04/05 17:13:57
    Liza Jane
    I'm SURE whoever wrote this article is aware of the fact that not all fish used for sushi is from Japan. SodaHead staff can't be THAT ignorant.

    I'll be asking the owners of the only sushi place I go to where the fish is from. If they say Japan, I'll avoid that fish. I know that their O-toro is farmed in Cambodia so I don't order that anymore either. I doubt the fish in Japan will be healthy to eat and I don't care what the Japanese government says. The American government has said that the Gulf seafood is good too... and it's not.

    I think I'll go vegetarian for a year or so and then reevaluate the state of the world's food supply safety.

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  • diane 2011/11/18 18:55:00
    I have large amounts of Thorium when I was tested for heavy medals .... I was told that
    Thorium is from Nuclear reactors and other sources that I am not near. I was told that it
    is showing up in peoples blood in hugh amounts in the past 4 months. This is from my medical doctor. I live most of the time in the past 3 years on the beach in Florida ... I am in the water lots ... however I spend a great deal of time in Santa Barbara, CA ... not in the water ... do I trust fish? No ... Also there was a high level of Lead in my tests which
    is from ceramics from China ... they say ... some uranium was also found .. I do not and have never lived next to any nuclear power plants ...
  • Fisher 2011/06/25 22:56:56
    What is there left to eat that are safe....????
    ..toxic & radioactive water in the ocean
    ..mad cow disease
    ..avian (bird) flu
    ..swine disease (pig)
    ..pesticides on fruits/vegetables
    ..air pollution
    We might as well go back to "Stone Age"..
  • mike j 2011/06/25 18:09:33
    mike j
    the united states set off atomic radioactive bombs in the Pacific Ocean many times , and not much changed that we eat from the ocean , i regret that a power plant did this too , but with scientific monitoring all should be safe
  • ken2ak 2011/06/23 19:45:59
    Get real. . .It's like pouring coke in the Ocean and trying to taste it in a glass of sea water. Phosphorus, that stuff that makes the ocean glow at night, will mask it.
  • purplehays 2011/06/23 19:17:36 (edited)
    No not safe. Was it ever? I think that there is a certain amount of study that needs to be done regarding the uptake of the radioactive isotopes in question into the food chain. We don't know yet in the mean time eat sushi if you want. I hope that we are not gonna let this regrettable incident come between us and a lot of new big nuclear reactors. We really need to be open minded and not reactionary about nuclear power. Seriously
  • JakeisHere 2011/06/23 18:16:22
    I've never felt it was particularily safe to begin with.
  • LenaleeNilla 2011/05/03 15:41:08
    Not all fish used from Sushi comes from japan.So Yes id still eat it.
  • zaddaa 2011/04/28 22:14:19
    It is safe. Well as safe as it can be. Anyway we are having our own radiation problems too.
  • THAT WAS FUN 2011/04/20 00:11:17 (edited)
  • Ramon 2011/04/19 04:11:16
    I sure wouldn't do it. Doesn't sound very safe to me.
  • Gabby Grandchamp 2011/04/19 01:18:11
    Gabby Grandchamp
    I really dont care i love sushi
  • Adrianna 2011/04/16 12:16:06
    You have to be kidding, right? The question is scary stupid.
  • Andrew 2011/04/16 01:21:05
    Nope, that could cause cancer.
  • HypothesizeIt 2011/04/14 13:56:18
    Well, if you own a Gieger counter maybe...
    gieger counter

    When, oh when, will people wise up and see how Nuclear is demonstrably the most UNCLEAN of fuel sources...
  • ken2ak Hypothe... 2011/06/23 20:05:45
    Nuclear will be safer in the future, because of new designs that focus on reducing the waste. One of the hybrid reactors would be capable of burning the sludge waste of 10 to 15 LWRs, rendering it non-radioactive. The new design would cut 99 percent of the waste produced by reactors, making them less radioactive than coal plants, which also emit some mildly radioactive isotopes.

    LWR, Light Water Reactor, is a design fron the 50's. . .The U.S. has over 100 operating commercial nuclear power plants, more than any other country, and many of them are near large population centers. The NRC has done a fair job in keeping American safe from this danger with the byproduct being cheap power with a low carbon footprint.
  • Hypothe... ken2ak 2011/06/24 13:41:43 (edited)
    Good to know. I'll look into into it.

    Here is the reason I am 100% against nuclear power:

    Nuclear Plant loses main and backup power (like in an earthquake)
    Result: - Big explosions and massive amounts of radiation spewed all over the countryside. Large area uninhabitable for generations. Thousands to Hundreds of thousands of deaths from cancer and other radiation-related diseases. (eg Chernobyl)

    Coal Plant loses main and backup power (like in an earthquake)
    Result: - nothing...

    You'd think we wouldn't build on fault lines, but we're building a new nuclear plant
    right now on a fault line in KY. I wouldn't care if it was coal.

    EDIT: I see that Fukushima is a Light Water Reactor
  • dancer 2011/04/13 17:43:19
    I am not eating anything that comes from the sea anymore.... between the toxic oil w/ it's toxic camoflage, miles of floating plastic and nuclear waste,. the sea has becoming a death trap for what was formerly a healthy chunk of the food chain ... why would anybody? We already know farmed fish are unhealthy as they are rife with diseases because they are NOT out in the open water and we feed them waste materials.
  • Princess Amethyst 2011/04/13 06:29:23
    Princess Amethyst
    I only eat non-fish sushi by the way. I stay away from fish sushi because they are all raw.
  • Genise 2011/04/12 17:28:37
    I am not eating any from there, but I am sure it is safe or it would not be served or I should hope not!
  • rugrat1411 2011/04/12 15:14:25
    Not just No but Hell No!
  • fasttony46 2011/04/11 18:20:41
    As much as I love seafood too! What the F#$K ! Man this world is so messed up!
  • mzemma 2011/04/11 14:37:03
    See, unclear power is unsafe and unwise to even consider doing but the men behind the idea who are making big bucks do not care about you are me. Get it! When will the people of the world wake up? Government do not care about the people only about making big bucks for themselves and their cronies' big shot CEO buddies. It's all about power and wealth for a very few at your expense.
  • Darling of Ville 2011/04/11 07:34:48
    Darling of Ville
    I only say no because of the chance for parasites. Disgusting. Note: this has nothing to do with radioactive fish lol.
  • Imperio... Darling... 2011/04/17 00:23:12
  • Darling... Imperio... 2011/04/17 03:51:46
    Darling of Ville
    Wow, Imperious, we actually agree on something?! Who knew!!

    I do agree...no uncooked meat whatsoever. Just the idea of raw meat is enough to make one throw up, with or without parasites haha.
  • Imperio... Darling... 2011/04/17 14:45:08
  • Dogfather 2011/04/11 04:17:01
    The New York Times has lost all credibility.
  • Kaimeso 2011/04/11 01:07:47
    Everyone knows that almost NO FISH live in the waters near Japan. They were fished out and eaten decades ago which is why Japan has such far ranging fleets of giant fishing boats. That blue fin tuna that everyone loves, gets caught in the South Pacific or off the coast of the US, shipped to Japan for grading and processing, then flow back to the US for consumption.
  • JaeyoungLee 2011/04/11 00:44:13
    not all fish is in sushi. the genesis of the sushi started in japan, but that doesn't mean the fish is. also, if my sushi starts to glow, i'll be pretty sure i should avoid it
  • purplehays Jaeyoun... 2011/06/23 19:35:11
    if you can see the glow you are too close
  • myfoxmystere 2011/04/10 23:51:33
    Sushi is not raw fish! Sushi is rice marinated with vinegar, sugar and salt. The correct word for raw fish is SASHIMI. And yes, it's still safe, for it's inspected before being sent to the market.
  • Imperio... myfoxmy... 2011/04/17 00:24:22
  • Account Closed 2011/04/10 17:32:46
    Account Closed
    Yes I will still eat Sushi, in fact I had some Sushi today and it was great with my Wasabi and soy sauce dip with a bit of marinated ginger. Yum

    sushi sushi wasabi soy sauce dip marinated ginger yum sushi
  • DennisTeel 2011/04/10 16:56:31
    yes IT'S OKAY..charlie sheen eats radioactive fish all the time and you don't see HIM acting bizarre
  • Murph 65 2011/04/10 14:09:56
    Murph 65
    Not really sure about this one. Depends on how high the contamination is.
  • Samantha 2011/04/10 03:31:16
    Why risk t? Plus Sushi is NASTY!
  • KING 2011/04/09 21:13:14
    I don't like sushi but you can't stop eating fish? We have to be more careful not to allow things like this to happen in the future
  • Carol 2011/04/09 20:10:56
    Are you crazy? Did we not learn anything from WWII?
  • Kay 2011/04/09 19:57:55
    Is anything truly 'safe'...has it ever really been safe? I don't know. Just pondering.
  • Imperio... Kay 2011/04/17 00:28:16
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