Last week, NDP incumbent, Nathan Cullen, and Prince Rupert MLA, Gary Coons, voiced concerns about possible radiation contamination in seafood stocks off the North Coast and Haida Gwaii. While campaigning on the Haida Gwaii last week, Cullen raised the concerns about the possibility of radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plan in Japan could contaminate seafood off of BC over time, and eventually make its way into human consumption.
Cullen says that he’s heard concerns from people in the region from people who are worried about rising radiation levels in rainwater, seaweed and wildlife which people depend on for food and for their livelihoods. The town of Old Masset has advised its residents been doing its own independent testing and advised its residents to not drink rainwater. Cullen says that testing should be the federal government’s responsibility.
“There is some testing going on, but its being done and funded for mostly by communities, and we think the federal government has got to get involved, bring it up to a certain level, fund it, and make sure its comprehensive,” says Cullen.
Since the earthquake in Japan, Health Canada has been assuring people on the west coast of the country that the amount of radiation coming over from Japan is very small once it makes it over here. Cullen says he met with the nuclear watchdog in Ottawa and that their testing is focused almost exclusively on found in the air, but that people are really worried about radiation in the ocean.
According to news reports, seawater used to try to cool off the damaged reactor at the power plant in Japan is being pumped back into the ocean. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Sunday that it hopes to stop pumping out the contaminated water soon.
“With ocean currents being the way they are, I think we have enough legitimate concern from the baseline levels, that we should do some tests to see when those levels start to change, which they are already,” says Cullen
Local MLA Gary Coons has also taken up the issue and submitted a list of questions to Health Canada about what, if any, radiation testing they are doing on sea life off of the North Coast. He received an acknowledgement from Health Canada but no answers to his questions.
The Northern View made its own inquiries about this subject to Health Canada, Environment Canada and DFO and received no response from any of them.
Cullen and Coons acknowledge that the government agencies have continually said that there is no serious threat to Canadians from radaition, and some will accuse them of fear-mongering, but say that people who depend on the water deserve the reassurance of testing.
“I do believe that one has to be careful not to raise alarms about this situation, but when we have Old Massett doing independent testing and advising area residents not to drink rainwater because of concern about radiation from Japan, I believe that federal agencies should heed questions and concerns from those in our region,” said Coons.