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Radiation from the March 2011 nuclear accident arrived off the BC coast last year, Robin Brown, ocean sciences division manager with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), said Tuesday, February 4.
“According to our observations, the radiation from Fukushima was detected in BC coastal waters in June 2013,” he said. “Barely detectable, but detectable.”
Although the federal government tested food samples, including some domestic fish species, in 2011 and early 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) now reports that “further testing of imported or domestic food products for the presence of radioactive material is not required.”
Last month, Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee wrote to National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, urging him to press Ottawa for action amid growing concerns by members of the Tahltan Nation in northwestern BC.
“We cannot sit by and watch and wait to see what the full impacts of the Fukushima disaster will be on our salmon and our way of life,” McPhee wrote. “To date, we have not seen or heard of Canada taking this issue seriously and working in a real way to address it.”
In an interview, McPhee said news reports about Fukushima have bred fear in her community.
“Some people are not eating their fish because they’re scared,” she said. “Some people don’t want to feed it to their kids. We don’t want to get cancer. We already have lots of cancer up in our area.”
She added the Tahltan people are concerned about what’s going on. “We get our fish from the Stikine River, but it comes from the Pacific Ocean,” she said. “As first nations, we’ve got to come together and address this, force the government’s hand. We have a right to know if our fish is safe to eat.”
BC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip echoed that view, calling the federal government’s inaction “highly irresponsible.
WATERBORNE THREAT: This map shows the surface water distribution of cesium-137 from Fukushima in 2012, when the main inventory of radioactivity had moved toward the central North Pacific. The plume is expected to shift almost entirely to North America’s west coast during the next five years. Fukushima radiation was detected in BC coastal waters in June 2013. Department of Fisheries and Oceans map
JOHN GLEESON/STAFF WRITER
I felt pretty good Tuesday evening after getting off the phone with Robin Brown, head of the ocean sciences division of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, based in Sidney, B.C.
Brown, who co-authored a DFO report last year tracking the movement of Fukushima radiation to the West Coast, sounded very reasonable and reassuring when he said radiation levels detected so far were nothing to worry about from a human health standpoint.
“I’m still eating sushi. I’m still eating salmon. I’m not selling my house and moving to the Prairies,” he told me. “But I’m out in the community and I know people are concerned.”
One of the reasons people are afraid, of course, is that governments are not telling us much at all about the spread of radiation from Japan or its impacts on the environment. That’s why I was encouraged when I talked to Brown. He said Health Canada was doing some testing on marine life for radiation levels, measuring concentrations in fish.
That’s what First Nation leaders are calling for, and I thought it was a positive development.
The next day I tried tracking down the Health Canada contact that Brown gave me, who is the director of the department’s Radiation Protection Bureau in Ottawa.
Instead of getting a scientist, I got a communications officer, who redirected me to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. There, another communications officer responded with an emailed statement that said Canada has not been testing marine life for radiation since early 2012 because “it is not required.”
NO one knows anything of real measurment, and we have asked for none
Cracks found in floor near Fukushima radioactive water tanks