Oregon State University researchers have found traces of radioactive cesium from last year’s Japanese nuclear reactor disaster in West Coast albacore tuna.
The amount is far too small to harm people who eat the fish, the scientists said.
Scientists from the university and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collected and tested fish caught off the West Coast before and after the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that caused a nuclear reactor to release radioactive material, the Longview Daily News reported.
The team’s findings are in line with work by researchers in California, who announced in May that they had found traces of radioactive cesium in bluefin tuna caught off the southern coast.
“We’re still processing new fish, but so far the radiation we’re detecting is far below the level of concern for human safety,” said Delvan Neville, a graduate researcher with OSU’s Radiation Health Physics program and a co-investigator on the project.
Albacore tuna is a $41 million business in the Pacific Northwest, and fishermen from the region caught about 10,000 tons last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Washington fishermen accounted for about 53 percent of the haul, and the remainder came through Oregon docks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and NOAA have jointly stated they have “high confidence” in the safety of U.S. seafood products because the radiation levels are so low.
The OSU team said its findings could reveal information about where Pacific albacore tuna travel and how the ocean’s ecosystem can be linked to events thousands of miles away.