Japanese authorities are reporting high levels of cesium in fish off the coast of Ibaraki, about 80 miles south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
NHK reports that local fishing has been suspended. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters at a press conference that the government will continue to monitor the contamination of the fish in Ibaraki prefecture to see if fishing can be resumed.
Ibaraki Prefecture says 526 becquerels of radioactive cesium was found in one kilogram of sand lances. The acceptable limit is 500 becquerels. It is the first time that contamination levels above legal limits have been found in fish. Sand lances are less than a foot long that is a common food for seabirds and larger fish. While not commercially fished in the U.S., it is a delicacy in Asia and the Japanese catch thousands of tons per year.
The contamination levels in the fish are much higher than those that Tokyo Electric Power reported for the seawater about 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of the damaged nuclear power plant on Sunday. Levels of cesium-134 were at 0.018 becquerels and cesium-137 was at 0.028 becquerels per cubic centimeter of water. On March 30, contamination levels 16 kilometers south of the plant were higher, at 0.18 to 0.19 becquerels of cesium per cubic centimeter, or about 142 per kilogram of seawater.
While contamination at that location was two to three times the legal limits for cesium on March 30, it had fallen below that level a few days later.
But that doesn't explain how the fish became more contaminated or if it is a spurious measurement. While there are large amounts of radioactive water being discharged from the plant, authorities have said that contamination levels should drop off relatively quickly because the volume is small relative to the ocean.