South Korea will strengthen emergency seawater radiation tests by adding more coastal spots to ease public concerns about Japan's release of contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, Seoul's oceans minister has said.
In July, South Korea began emergency radiation tests on samples from a total of 75 coastal locations in the east, west and south of South Korea, as well as the waters off the southern island of Jeju, about a month ahead of Japan's release of "treated" radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was crippled by a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, into the sea.
"We chose the spots, as they are expected to have the released waters first given the sea current. We will add more locations to the list, particularly in the East Sea, to further ensure safety," Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan told reporters on Thursday during his visit to a test spot off the southern port city of Busan.
In addition to the 75 spots in territorial waters, South Korea has been carrying out radiation tests on 33 points from more distant areas, and it plans to raise the number of testing spots to nearly 250 next year, he added.
"We will maintain the emergency testing system until the people are no longer worried about the issue and say no more tests are required," Cho said.
All the samples have met the safety standards so far, and no radiation has been detected in domestic seafood or imported marine products, the minister added.
The government mobilized officials and experts from various institutions, including the Korea Polar Research Institute, to conduct extensive tests, and it takes just a couple of days to get the analysis results, according to a ministry official.
South Korea has also been conducting a 100-day intensive inspection from August into the marking of country of origin for imported seafood products to dispel public safety concerns.
In August, South Korean imports of Japanese seafood fell 34.8 percent from the previous year to US$7.81 million, the smallest monthly figure in two years, according to government data.
South Korea banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima in 2013 on concerns over their radiation levels in the wake of the meltdown incident in 2011, and vowed to keep in place the import curbs.
Source: Yonhap News Agency