FDA Adds Alaska Salmon Testing To Radiation Monitoring Program

Alaska fish are being tested for radiation contamination from Japan’s leaking Fukushima Nuclear energy plant.

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The power plant was damaged during an earthquake three years ago and continues to releases radioactive water into the sea.

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation State Director of Environmental Health Elaine Busse Floyd says samples of Alaska fish have been submitted to a Federal Food and Drug Administration testing program.

“We were able to just encourage the FDA to add 20 samples of Alaskan fish to their annual monitoring program to specifically look and test fish for radionuclides,” she said.

Floyd says each Alaska fish sample, is made up of multiple flesh samples from various species including halibut, pollock, sable fish and salmon, including Copper River and Bristol Bay stocks. The samples were sent to an F.D.A. testing lab in Massachusetts in March, the first time Alaska fish has been submitted for testing.

The action follows public concern that prompted the Fairbanks City Council and North Star Borough Assembly to pass resolutions last month urging the state and federal governments to investigate Fukushima radiation in Alaska. Assembly resolution sponsor John Davies pointed to history in advocating for more information.

“And the troubling thing is that this type of situation follows a pattern; it’s the same pattern that happened after Chernobyl, the same pattern than happened after Three Mile Island, and in fact going back to the atomic test days of the 50s,” he said.

Davies said in the previous incidents Alaskans found out about radiation issues after an initial lack of concern. He says a search for answers on the state website only yielded outdated information.

“But nothing, not data, specifically about Fukushima, and then we read that there are fish companies that are actually paying to have their samples tested because the market is beginning to tell them that they don’t trust,” Davies said.

The state’s Floyd points to federal testing of non-Alaska Pacific fish stocks as well as Alaska air, water and marine debris samples that have shown no significant levels of Fukushima radiation.

“But, I understand that the public feels if you can detect it, it might be an area of concern, but there’s a lot of misinformation and fear about radiation out there and, quite frankly, there’s more background radiation that we are around every day than what we’re at all getting from the Fukushima diasaster,” she said.

Floyd says results from Fukushima radiation testing of Alaska fish are expected back from the FDA in late April.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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