TEPCO's radioactive water dump raises food safety concerns

A broker walks between fish at the Hirakata Fish Market in Kitaibaraki.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: In Japan, radiation is starting to affect yet another industry -- fishing, with big losses after the tsunami, now has a problem with radioactivity. Late yesterday, power plant owner Tokyo Electric Power began dumping the toxic water there. And now for the first time ever, Japan is setting a new standard for the amount of radiation allowed in fish.

From Tokyo, Marketplace's Scott Tong reports.


SCOTT TONG: The headlines screamed in the afternoon papers. One read: "Tokyo Electric Power: Acting without a Plan." Another says: "Worst possible choice." The utility company insists that even if the sludge contaminates fish, radioactivity levels would be very low. If you're not comforted, neither is Jeff Kingston at Temple University's Japan branch.

JEFF KINGSTON: The more they speak, the longer their nose becomes.

Wholesale prices for fish caught near the power plant have plunged 20 percent. Overseas orders are getting canceled -- the Koreans don't want Japan's fish, nor do high-end London restaurants or the Shangri-la hotel chain. It's undermining Japan's brand. This country is famously persnickety about food safety.

KINGSTON: I think this is going to have a significant impact on Japan's reputation as a reliable supplier of safe, fresh fish and vegetables.

Today, a local fisherman's association asked Tokyo Electric Power to stop polluting the ocean. But the PR disaster boat has already sailed.

In Tokyo, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...