Fishing off Fukushima suspended for indefinite period

Kyodo

A fisheries co-op in Soma Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, said Thursday it will end its trial catch at the end of this month, signaling an indefinite halt to all local fishing operations off the prefecture because of the constant flow of highly radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the Pacific.

The move by the co-op in Soma Futaba, in the northern part of the prefecture, follows a decision by a co-op in Iwaki, in the southern part, to drop plans to resume operations on a trial basis from Sept. 5.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it noticed puddles with high radiation levels near an area where a number of radioactive water storage tanks stand at the Fukushima plant. At least one of the tanks has been leaking, and it is believed the water it contained seeped down and merged with tainted groundwater that is flowing to the sea, and ran to the Pacific in drainage channels.

Tepco later admitted that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from the tank, which should have been holding about 1,000 tons. It said Wednesday that water from the tank probably flowed to the ocean through drainage channels.

Hiroyuki Sato, head of the Soma Futaba cooperative, said, “We want the central government to take steps to pull us out of this trouble as quickly as possible.”

The nuclear meltdown crisis, which started after the March 11, 2011, mega-quake and tsunami, led to the halt of fishing operations off Fukushima.

The Soma Futaba cooperative started the trial operation off the city of Soma in June 2012.

The Iwaki co-op had planned to start its first trial operation next month.