The Fukushima nuclear plant may still be leaking radiation into the sea, according to an article published Friday in the journal Science.
According to the analysis from Ken Buesseler, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of the United States, 40% of bottom feeding fish near the site of the nuclear disaster still show elevated levels of radiation.
"The fact that many fish are just as contaminated today with caesium 134 and caesium 137 as they were more than one year ago implies that caesium is still being released to the food chain," Buesseler wrote in "Fishing for Answers off Fukushima," which used a year's worth of data gathered by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).
"The (radioactivity) numbers aren't going down. Oceans usually cause the concentrations to decrease if the spigot is turned off," Buesseler told the Associated Press in an interview. "There has to be somewhere they're picking up the cesium."
"Option one is the seafloor is the source of the continued contamination. The other source could be the reactors themselves," he said.
TEPCO, the operator of the plant, also didn't rule out the possibility that there was still a leak, Reuters notes:
Asked if Tokyo Electric, also known as Tepco, could confirm that the plant is not leaking radiation into the sea any more, a spokeswoman said: "Tepco cannot say such a thing, but we have confirmed that radiation levels are declining in both the sea water and seabed soil around the plant."
The findings could have a long-term impact on the Japanese diet and fishermen.
"These fish could have to be banned for a long time. The most surprising thing for me was that the levels [of radioactivity] in the fish were not going down. There should have been much lower numbers," said Ken Buesseler, told the Guardian in an interview.
He adds, the BBC reports: "At one level, there shouldn't be any surprises here but on another, people need to come to grips with the fact that for some species and for some areas this is going to be a long-term issue; and with these results it's hard to predict for how long some fisheries might have to be closed,"