TOKYO — Environmental activist group Greenpeace said Thursday it had detected radiation far above legal limits in seaweed samples taken from the ocean off Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.
Greenpeace, which sent its Rainbow Warrior flagship to take samples of marine life and water, called on Japan's government to undertake comprehensive radiation testing of seaweed along the Fukushima coast.
Initial tests of 22 seaweed samples collected at distances up to 65 kilometres (40 miles) out to sea from the plant "registered significantly high levels of radioactive contamination," the group said.
Ten seaweed samples showed levels of over 10,000 Bequerel per kilogramme, the group said.
It did not specify if the contamination was from iodine-131 or caesium-137, the official safety limits for which are 2,000 Bequerel per kilogramme and 500 Bequerel per kilogramme respectively.
"From May 20, fishermen along the coast will begin harvesting seaweed for public consumption," said Ike Teuling, a radiation expert with the international environmental and anti-nuclear activist group.
"Our research indicates a significant risk that this seaweed will be highly contaminated," he said according to a statement.
Teuling warned that "radioactive contamination is accumulating in the marine ecosystem that provides Japan with a quarter of its seafood, yet the authorities are still doing the very little to protect public health".
Greenpeace said it and independent laboratories were conducting detailed analysis of seawater, fish, shellfish and seaweed collected either from the ocean or coast and expected to release the full results next week.
The group earlier complained it had not been granted permission by Japan to conduct marine testing within the country's 20 kilometre (12-mile) territorial waters.
Greenpeace Japan executive director Junichi Sato said earlier this week that "as the government has limited our research to the area outside of territorial waters, we could not achieve what we originally set out to do".
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