Fishing ban reinstated as Fukushima nuclear leaks affect marine life


TONY EASTLEY: With the Fukushima nuclear plant leaking hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water into the Pacific every day, fishing has once again been banned off the coast.

While scientists say it’s too early to tell how the contamination will affect marine life, test catches have shown that some fish – especially bottom-feeding species, have been affected.

The ABC’s North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy has managed to get a berth on a boat which is catching fish for testing off the coast.

I spoke to him via satellite phone a short time ago.

Mark, in the pursuit of this story, where are you and what are you doing?

MARK WILLACY: Well Tony, I’m about 15 kilometres off the Fukushima coast and about 35 kilometres south of the Fukushima nuclear plant. We’re basically out here to catch 15 or so different species of fish and marine life that will be then taken for testing – radiation testing, contamination testing – because obviously the big issue here is just how contaminated is the ocean given the leaks, the ongoing leaks, from Fukushima.

Both contaminated groundwater that’s passing under the plant and then reaching the Pacific. But also that highly contaminated leak from a tank onsite at the plant.

TONY EASTLEY: What are the fishermen there with you on board saying about this latest crisis involving leaks from the plant?

MARK WILLACY: Well they’re just gobsmacked, Tony. They’re very angry. They’ve obviously believed that Tepco has been lying to them for weeks, if not months. You know, they seem to suggest that that the cover-ups get worse.

And that’s the feeling among the fisherman. They believe Tepco’s probably sitting on more secrets that they don’t want anyone to know about. So there’s a feeling that Tepco just cannot be trusted and that these fisherman probably don’t really feel like they have a future anymore.

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