Radiation Testing of Seafood by Washington State Seafood Companies: Radioactive Strontium and Cesium

Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics, a Washington state seafood company, has been conducting radiation testing on Pacific ocean fish since 2012. Recently they released the results of testing for strontium 90 in King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and Albacore Tuna, which are posted here with their permission.

No strontium found:
Article dated 1/09/2014 
Results PDF 
"Last summer, the first reports appeared suggesting that a longer-lived radionuclide called strontium 90 (Sr-90) was leaking from the stricken nuclear plant.
So to ensure safety, we sent more fish to be tested for Sr-90, in the fall of 2013."

Strontium testing was performed by Pace Analytical Services, Inc. Review was performed by SGS North America, Inc.

Received on 10/30/2013. Analyzed on 11/12/2013.

Sockeye Salmon   -0.00130 ± 0.0210 pCi/g (MDC 0.0513 pCi/g) or -0.0481 ± 0.777 Bq/kg   (MDC 1.8981 Bq/kg) 
King Salmon           0.0228 ± 0.0292 pCi/g (MDC 0.0635 pCi/g) or 0.8436 ± 1.0804 Bq/kg (MDC 2.3495 Bq/kg)
Albacore Tuna       -0.0151 ± 0.0167 pCi/g (MDC 0.0456 pCi/g) or -0.5587 ± 0.6179 Bq/kg (MDC 0.6247 Bq/kg)

Results are shown as the activity ± uncertainty. The original results in pCi/g are followed by values converted to Bq/kg (1 pCi = 0.037 Bq).
Entire fish, including skin and bone, was tested according to Vital Choice, which is important as strontium accumulates in the bone.
 MDC is minimum detectable concentration. (Also described as MDA, minimum detectable activity). (Note 1)

Vital Choice seafood harvest areas are described on this page.

    ”All of our Pacific seafood – salmon, sablefish, halibut, cod, prawns, shrimp, Dungeness crab, mussels, and clams – is caught or harvested off Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia (BC), between 4,000 and 5,000 miles east of the nuclear plant.
    The sole exceptions are albacore tuna and king crab. Our albacore is caught off Midway Island, and our king crab is caught in the Bering Sea. Both areas are located about 2,500 miles east of the plant.”

Vital Choice has also done three rounds of radiation testing for iodine 131 and cesium 134 and 137.

1st test reported on 3/29/2012
"Eurofins Laboratories tested 15 species of fish and shellfish for cesium-134, cesium-137, and iodine-131, and found none."

Cesium 134: None to trace levels (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
    Most species  <1.0 Bq/kg
    Albacore 1.4 Bq/kg
    Halibut 1.3 Bq/kg

The trace levels found in our albacore and halibut are less than 15% of the maximum combined level of Cesium 137 + 134 normally found in fish (10 Bq/kg). (See Note 2)

And those trace levels are just 0.1% of the FDA’s level of concern (DIL) for combined Cesium 137 + 134 levels in foods (1200 Bq/kg). (See Note 3)

Cesium 137: None detected (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
Iodine 131: None detected (MDA 2.0 Bq/kg)
This means that all seafood tested contained less than 1.2% of the FDA’s Derived Intervention Level (DIL) for Iodine 131 (170 Bq/kg). Iodine 131 decays to safe forms within about two weeks after its creation. (See Note 3)

2nd test reported in September 2012
"Eurofins Laboratories tested our Pacific albacore and our Alaskan halibut, sockeye salmon, and cod. They found no cesium-134 or iodine 131, and only a barely detectable, clearly safe level of Cesium 137 in a sample of cod."

Cesium 134: None detected (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
Cesium 137: Cod 1.2 Bq/kg (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
Iodine 131: None detected (MDA 2.0 Bq/kg).

3rd test reported in September 2013
"Eurofins Laboratories tested our salmon (pink, king, sockeye, silver), tuna, cod, halibut, and sablefish for cesium-134, cesium-137, and iodine-131, and found none."

Cesium-134: None detected (MAD 1.0 Bq/kg)
Cesium-137: None detected (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
Iodine-131: None detected (MDA 2.0 Bq/kg)


Also, Loki Fish Company in Seattle, Washington, just released their radiation test results conducted by Eurofins Analytical Laboratories.
A family owned and operated business, Loki Fish Company harvest wild salmon and halibut from southeast Alaska and Puget Sound. 

January 7, 2014 post by Loki Fish Company "No Elevated Levels of Radiation Found in North Pacific Salmon Samples"
Test results 
"Tests were conducted on Pink, Keta, Coho, Sockeye and King salmon from southeast Alaska, and Pink and Keta salmon from Puget Sound."

Cesium-134: Alaskan Pink Salmon 1.2 Bq/kg (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
Cesium-137: Alaskan Keta Salmon 1.4 Bq/kg (MDA 1.0 Bq/kg)
Iodine-131: None detected (MDA 2.0 Bq/kg)

Note 1: For reference, MDC for strontium testing by the Japanese Fisheries Agency was in the range of 0.01-0.04 Bq/kg.

Note 2: Is it true that maximum of 10Bq/kg of combined Cs134 AND Cs137 can be found in fish under the normal circumstance? Should there be any Cs134 normally found in fish? Upon an inquiry, Vital Choice said this information came from Eurofins. According to this study, no Cs134 was detected and Cs137 was 1.4 Bq/kg in Pacific Blue Fin Tuna in 2008).

Note 3: US FDA's DIL (Derived Interventional Level)  is 160 Bq/kg for strontium 90, 170 Bq/kg for iodine 131, and 1,200 Bq/kg for cesium 134 and 137 for any food. Standard limits for radioactive cesium in Japan are 100 Bq/kg for general food and 50 Bq/kg for infant food and milk, taking into account the contribution from radioactive strontium and plutonium, etc. It should be noted that these limits are considered too high by those who believe internal radiation doses have stronger effects than equivalent external radiation exposure doses. For instance, report by foodwatch and German IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) calls for lowering of EU cesium limits of 600 Bq/kg for all foodstuffs and 370 Bq/kg for baby food and milk products to 16 Bq/kg and 8 Bq/kg, respectively.

Furthermore, on the Vital Choice information page, the section called "Radiation experts see no cause for concern," refers to a study called "Evaluation of radiation doses and associated risk from the Fukushima nuclear accident to marine biota and human consumers of seafood.

Excerpt from the abstract:
"The additional dose from Fukushima radionuclides to humans consuming tainted PBFT in the United States was calculated to be 0.9 and 4.7 µSv for average consumers and subsistence fishermen, respectively. Such doses are comparable to, or less than, the dose all humans routinely obtain from naturally occurring radionuclides in many food items, medical treatments, air travel, or other background sources. Although uncertainties remain regarding the assessment of cancer risk at low doses of ionizing radiation to humans, the dose received from PBFT consumption by subsistence fishermen can be estimated to result in two additional fatal cancer cases per 10,000,000 similarly exposed people."

First of all, 
the internal dose described in μSv (microsievert) and applied to general population is misleading, as sensitivity to radiation can vary with age and gender. In addition, comparison of manmade fission products, such as radioactive cesium, to natural background radiation, such as radioactive potassium in bananas, is also misleading as such comparison tolerates and nearly justifies the environmental existence of the fission products. One must ask the question, "Should it really be there?" Also, exposure to medical diagnostic and therapeutic radiation (internal or external) is not exactly "background," and it is not harmless as seen in this study. Air travel is hardly comparable to ingestion of cesium as the former is external exposure while the latter internal.

One must understand these distinctions, often blurred in convenient explanations, to be able to make an intelligent decision about whether or not to consume contaminated foodstuff. Since there is no safe dose of radiation, it is ultimately an individual decision whether or not to accept the risk. However, a higher vulnerability of certain populations, such as babies, infants, children and pregnant women, and women with reproductive potential, should be taken into consideration. 

Note 4: In both Vital Choice and Loki Fish tests, Cs 134 was found alone without Cs 137 in some fish. This seemed odd, as the presence of Cs 134 is the signature for Fukushima radiation contamination as opposed to Cs 137 alone which could be due to past nuclear testing. When Vital Choice was asked about this, they had no information on it. They just stated that Eurofins was expert in radionuclide testing. 

US Physicians Claim Radiation Risks Due to the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

The following is the English translation of the The Wall Street Journal Japan Online article posted on November 13, 2013. Permission for translation was obtained from the author, Misako Hida.

Disclaimer: Wall Street Journal Japan Online is not responsible for the translation.

Note: Although most of the links were not part of the original article, they were provided within the translation for easy accessibility to appropriate information at the discretion of the translator.


NY Report by Misako Hida
November 13, 2013

US physicians claim radiation risks due to the Fukushima nuclear accident

Intake of radioactively contaminated air, water and food brings radioactive material inside the body, causing internal radiation contamination. It is a critical responsibility of adults to protect lives and health of children, who will carry on the future, from radiation exposure.

Last month, there was a symposium held in New York City to discuss the "Fukushima Report" by United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effect of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). A former president of a non-governmental organization (NGO) "Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)" and Assistant Clinical Professor in Department of Medicine at University of Iowa, John W. Rachow, M.D., urged not to underestimate the risks of health effects on Fukushima children, by excerpting the following quote by President Kennedy.

"The number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard-and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby-who may be born long after all of us have gone-should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics towards which we can be indifferent."

This was part of the July 27th Radio and Television Address to the American People by President Kennedy, the day after the United States and the former USSR reached an agreement to sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, in the midst of Cold War when the United States and the former USSR were engaged in the arms race.

A Fukushima child being tested for radiation exposure (March 13, 2013). (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

"A 50-year-old speech by President Kennedy fits the UNSCEAR report just right," says Rachow.

The symposium, co-sponsored by PSR and Human Rights Now, the Japanese human rights organization, places an emphasis on "human rights" rather than "statistics." It was held in response to the summary report by UNSCEAR, submitted to the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in October 2013, which stated, "No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public." Its purpose was to demand that UNSCEAR re-recognize uncertainties accompanying estimation of exposure doses as well as health effects, and encourage improvements in the completion of the final report.

According to the critique about the report, co-authored by PSR and the German branch of the US NGO "International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)," UNSCEAR report failed to accurately portray the true extent of radiation exposure, ignored the ongoing radioactive emissions, and excluded non-cancer effects of radiation. 

Moreover, it also questions the reliability of TEPCO's worker dose assessment and the neutrality of the data used in the report, suggesting that monitoring should occur for non-cancer diseases and genetic radiation effects. The critique also sounds the alarm that the comparisons between nuclear fallout and background (natural) radiation, often used when minimizing the risks of radiation exposure, can be misleading.

According to Dr. Rachow, the critique was sent to UNSCEAR by e-mail, and "a polite and quick reply" was received. "I felt that our concerns and suggestions would be considered, and we felt encouraged."

In regards to the summary report, UNSCEAR released an interim report in May 2013, stating, "No immediate health risks were seen" from the Fukushima nuclear accident. This column also featured a two-part interview of Dr. Wolfgang Weiss, Chair of the UNSCEAR report and Head of the Department of Radiation Protection and Health of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

At first, the entire report was to be presented at UNGA this fall. However, after the interim report came out, it was revealed that the Japanese government and TEPCO did not have an accurate assessment of the status of worker exposure. In October, UNSCEAR announced the postponement of the completion of the report, citing the underestimation of internal exposure dose of workers by about 20% due to radioactive iodine 133 (half-life 20 hours) not being reflected in dose estimation of workers.

According to the United Nations press release, Carl-Magnus Larsson, the Chair of the UNSCEAR,  announced in a briefing at the Fourth Committee of UNGA, that just as in the interim report in May, human exposure to radiation was "low or generally low, with no immediate health effects."

However, regarding children, Larsson explained, because of "the difference between the ways atomic energy affected children as compared to adults," more caution was required. Consequently there had been a major thyroid screening program of 360,000 children conducted in Japan. However, it was unclear whether higher than usual rates of thyroid cancers and abnormalities detected were due to radiation exposure, as they are "indistinguishable" from cancers due to other causes.

Dr. Rachow dismisses UNSCEAR's views that it is not possible to prove increased cancer risks due to radiation exposure. "It is typical tautology to state, 'Since radiation-induced cancers are indistinguishable from cancers caused by other causes, in the case of Fukushima, increase in cancer attributable to radiation exposure is not expected'," says Rachow. (Tautology refers to repetition of synonymous words, guaranteeing the truth of the proposition in rhetoric).

The symposium also featured Anand Grover, Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council who submitted a report to the UN this May, recommending the Japanese government to strictly regulate radiation limits based on "human rights." He stated, "Nation should not breach 'the right for attainment of health' for citizens. It has the duty to respect and protect its people."

Meanwhile, briefings at the Fourth Committee of UNGA suggested unspoken pressure on UNSCEAR by the Japanese government. According to the UN press release mentioned earlier, the Japanese delegate indicated that UNSCEAR report had a possibility of "causing misunderstanding." It's because some Japanese media's articles "incorrectly" reported that "the report had concluded that the Government of Japan had underestimated the amount of internal exposure of workers at the plant.

A former president of a non-governmental organization (NGO) "Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)" and Assistant Clinical Professor in Department of Medicine at University of Iowa, John W. Rachow, M.D. (Photo courtesy of Dr. John Rachow)

Certainly, there is the fact that UNSCEAR indicated the possibility of underestimation after receiving new sets of data from TEPCO in regards to the workers, even though it is not the final report. It is a matter of fact to reflect any discrepancy in data. The statement by the Japanese delegate could be construed as indirectly demanding a change in "conclusion" in the final report.

In fact, according to the proceedings of Nuclear Safety Commission on September 9, 2011, Technical Advisor Kenzo Fujimoto and Expert Member Nobuhiko Ban made statements insinuating to restrain UNSCEAR's own data analysis at the first meeting of the "Domestic Support and Investigation Working Group for the UNSCEAR Fukushima Nuclear Accident Report," held prior to the start of the investigation by UNSCEAR.

"I say this out of concern, but if the Working Group makes efforts in collecting detailed and outstanding data and submitting them to UNSCEAR, foreigners will use them to make various assessments.(…) I think we have to assess them ourselves in Japan to prepare the data they can deal with, or else it would be embarrassing for us to appear as if we were a dependent country by submitting the data alone and leaving the assessment up to them.(…)" (Advisor Fujimoto).

In response to this, Expert Member Ban said, "I totally agree with what was just said." He continued on to say, "(…) it's something that should be approached with “the All Japan System,” which means we need to be careful with how and when the data should be submitted." In regards to the early exposure of thyroid gland to iodine, he referred to the necessity for the Japan side to do some analysis before asking for further analysis by UNSCEAR. He shared his concern, "If we simply submit the data, they might do whatever they want with the data, leading to the possibility that they might come out with some outrageous results."

In the first place, reliability of some data is questionable. For instance, according to the dust sampling measurement results by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology dated June 7, 2011, radionuclides were detected at various places such as Fukushima University on March 18, 2011, immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, even though 9,100 to 17,000 Becquerel of short-lived iodine 132 (half-life of about 2 hours) was detected, the parent nuclide Tellurium 132 (half-life about 3 days) was "undetected." However, according to Dr. Rachow, it is customary for Tellurium 132 to be detected along with the daughter nuclide iodine 132.

As "uncertainty" lingers not only in scientific effects of radiation exposure but also in the amount and the quality of data itself, how far can UNSCEAR approach what Dr. Rachow calls "firm commitment to the truth"? We look forward to the final report.

Addendum by the translator: 
Dust sampling measurement results mentioned above have also been translated as below. The questionable parts were contained within red squares.

Translation by @YuriHiranuma

Tokyo Shimbun Article Regarding Confidentiality Clause in the IAEA/FMU Pact, Complete Translation


On December 31, 2013, the morning edition of Tokyo Shimbun published an article revealing the existence of a “confidentiality clause” in agreements signed by IAEA and Fukushima Medical University (FMU) as well as Fukui Prefecture. 

For clarification, when the memorandum regarding the IAEA/FMU pact was released on December 15, 2012, the details including the confidentiality clause were noted by Oshidori Mako, who attended the press conference. Fukui Prefecture signed the agreement on October 7, 2013, and again, the confidentiality clause was already included in the publicized agreement. 

Tokyo Shimbun might have written up the article, citing potential implication of the confidential clause as preemption to the State Secrecy Protection Law, which was steamrollered in December amid strong opposition and controversy.

These are some links to the relevant documents:

Signing of "Memorandum of Cooperation between Fukushima Prefecture and the International Atomic Energy Agency following the Accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station"

(Fact sheet) IAEA cooperation projects in Fukushima Prefecture

Practical Arrangements between Fukushima Medical University and the International Atomic Energy Agency on Cooperation in the Area of Human Health [PDF] (signed on December 15, 2012)

Practical Arrangement between the Fukui Prefectural Government and the International Atomic Energy Agency on Cooperation in the Areas of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Sciences and Applications [PDF] (signed on October 7, 2013)

Complete translation of the December 31, 2013 Tokyo Shimbun article
(Note: This is an unofficial translation, and Tokyo Shimbun is not responsible for the content).

Confidential clause in agreements between IAEA and Fukushima and Fukui Prefectures: shared information could be non-publicized

It was discovered that the memorandum of cooperation between the IAEA and Fukushima as well as Fukui Prefectures contain a confidentiality clause that will classify shared information if requested by either party. This clause was not discussed by the prefectural assembly, and critics say "it could be preempting the State Secrecy Protection Law."

The memorandum of cooperation with IAEA was signed in December 2012 by Fukushima prefecture as well as October 2013 by Fukui Prefecture.

In Fukushima Prefecture, it was the prefectural government that entered into an agreement with IAEA in the area of decontamination and radioactive waste management, whereas Fukushima Medical University entered into an agreement with IAEA in the area of the survey of radiological effect on human health. The memorandum includes detailed "Practical Agreements" which contained a clause stating, "The Parties will ensure the confidentiality of information classified by the other Party as restricted or confidential." 

Fukui Prefecture also entered into an agreement with IAEA in the area of development of human resources in the field of nuclear energy, and its memorandum also included a confidentiality clause.

Neither prefecture admits to any information having been classified confidential at this time, but if either the prefectures or IAEA decide to classify information for "they contribute to worsening of the residents' anxiety," there is a possibility that such information as the accident information, as well as radiation measurement data and thyroid cancer information may not be publicized.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs official who was involved in the making of the memorandum stated, upon interview, that "As this is an international agreement, I cannot reveal which party, Japan or IAEA, asked for the confidentiality clause."

However, officials of both prefectures stated that IAEA has a rule to include the confidentiality clause when signing the memorandum with the administrative body of each country.

IAEA has published reports, after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, stating "there were no health effects due to radiation exposure."

Ruiko Mutoh, representative of The Complainants for Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, expressed her concern that "IAEA has a history of hiding information about health effects in Chernobyl. The same thing could happen to Fukushima."

Fukushima Thyroid Examination February 2020: 186 Surgically Confirmed as Thyroid Cancer Among 237 Cytology Suspected Cases

Highlights   The third round: 1 case newly diagnosed as suspicious or malignant, and 5 new cases surgically confirmed.  The fourth ...