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Food, Health, and Eco-news
No Worries for Alaskan Seafood
03/17/2011
Experts agree that radiation released from Japan's nuclear plants is very unlikely to contaminate seafood harvested from Alaskan or North Pacific waters.
 
Below, you'll find quotes from The New York Times and experts at Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as excerpted advisories from the State of Alaska.
 
Rest assured that all of the seafood in our facilities now was harvested before the emissions began.
 
And no matter how the situation evolves in the coming days, weeks, and months, our existing inventories are safe, and will continue to be so.
 
As the new harvest season approaches we will, as always, exercise extreme vigilance to ensure that all products we procure meet our rigorous standards of purity and safety … after all, Vital Choice families are among the largest consumers of our own fish!
 
Experts agree Alaskan and North Pacific seafood is safe … and will likely remain so
Yesterday, The New York Times quoted the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying that it expected that no “harmful levels of radioactivity” would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.” (NYT 3/16/2011)
 
And as Union of Concerned Scientists physicist Ed Lyman, Ph.D. – an expert in nuclear plant design – told The Anchorage Daily News, “it's unlikely, even worst case, that there would be significant health effects for [North American] people … or anything for the U.S. to be concerned about.” (AND 2011)
 
Nor is Greenpeace concerned, as John Hocevar of their Oceans Campaign wrote in a letter to SeafoodNews.com:
“… we have no reason to believe that radioactive contamination currently provides any health concern for seafood from the North Pacific … it is far too early to say whether there will be any danger regarding the safety of seafood caught in the North Pacific.” (SNC 3/16/2011)
 
New York Times reporters also answered questions from their readers, and included this response to a question about health risks to Americans on the west coast:
“… experts I've interviewed strongly doubt that there will be any significant risk on the West Coast, and say there is no reason to take the potassium iodide unless high levels of radioactive iodine develop. But again, scientists consider high levels unlikely in the United States. In addition, about 98 percent of a person's dose comes from drinking contaminated milk, and if fallout were to reach here (again, unlikely) most people could protect themselves by not drinking milk or eating dairy products. Children are much more vulnerable than adults.” (NYT 2011)
 
State of Alaska pledges close scrutiny
On Tuesday, the state of Alaska issued two several reassuring statements:
 
The following excerpt is from a release issued yesterday (SOA 3/16/2011):
 
Radiation from nuclear event in Japan
 
“We don't expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state, and there's no health risk at this time. Japan is thousands of miles from our state, and if radioactivity from the reactors is released it would be expected to be thinned-out by the winds before it could reach us. We could see a very small increase in radiation levels — well below levels that would be a health concern. We're working with federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated effort to monitor radiation levels in Alaska.”
 
And here's an excerpt from the State's primary press release, issued Tuesday of this week (SOA 3/15/2011)
 
State continues monitoring damaged Japanese reactor situation:
Still no immediate or anticipated threat in Alaska
 
The state of Alaska, along with our federal counterparts, is continuing to monitor the situation in Japan regarding their nuclear reactors.
 
Although the situation surrounding the nuclear reactors in Fukushima Dai-ichi remains grave, radioactive material is still not expected to reach Alaska in any quantity sufficient to produce health concerns, according to scientists with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
 
The only way the atmospheric radiation can reach the U.S. is through the high level jet stream.
The jet streams over the Pacific are far south of Alaska for the next three days.
 
There is no immediate or anticipated threat of harmful radiation reaching Alaska or its waters, therefore all seafood and other food items produced in Alaska are safe to consume.
 
State officials will notify the public through regular media channels and department websites should the situation change.
 
 
Sources
  • SeafoodNews.com (SNC). Letters: Greenpeace is NOT urging consumers to avoid Alaska pollock due to Japan disaster. March 16, 2011. Accessed at http://www.seafoodnews.com/newsemail.asp?key=823261
  • State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (SOA). Radiation from nuclear event in Japan. March 16, 2011. Accessed at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/press/2011/radiation_fs_031611.pdf
  • State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (SOA). State continues monitoring damaged Japanese reactor situation: Still no immediate or anticipated threat in Alaska. Accessed at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/press/2011/Reactor_pr_031511.pdf
  • The Anchorage Daily News (ADN). Alaska considers placing additional radiation monitors. March 15, 2011. Accessed at http://www.adn.com/2011/03/15/1757471/alaska-considers-placing-additional.html
  • The New York Times. Q. and A. on the Nuclear Crisis in Japan. March 17, 2011. Accessed at http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/q-and-a-on-the-nuclear-crisis-in-japan/
  • The New York Times. Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume. March 16, 2011. Accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/science/17plume.html
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