Low levels of nuclear radiation from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima power plant have been detected in bluefin tuna off the California coast, pointing to the possibility that the fish carried radioactive compounds across the Pacific Ocean faster than wind or water.
Small amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were found in 15 tuna caught near San Diego in August 2011, around four months after their release into the water off Japan's east coast, scientists reported on Monday.
This is months faster than wind and water currents could bring the debris from the plant to waters off Alaska and the US Pacific Northwest.
According to the researchers, the amount of radioactive cesium in the fish was not thought to be damaging to people if consumed. Their study has been published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
While avoiding making a definitive judgment on the safety of the fish, lead author Daniel Madigan of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station noted that the amount of radioactive material detected was much lower than the Japanese safety limit.
He told Retuers in a telephone interview that he would not tell anyone what was safe to eat and what was not. He added, it had become clear that some people felt that any amount of radioactivity was bad and they would like to avoid it. However, as against what was there naturally and what was established as safety limits, it was not a large amount at all.