Fish & foods

Japanese fisherman decided to stop fishing

Nuclear contaminated foods

You can read more on the topic visiting the french site of the laboratory of the Commission on Research and Independent Information on Radioactivity

Klick on the English language flag by the sign .

1. Modification of international food trade regulations : project of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

2. Modification of fundamental recommendations of the International Commission of Radiological Protection
Read the E-mail CRIIRAD has sent to ICRP:


CRIIRAD considers that « 2005 recommendations» will induce a dangerous decline in protection against the dangers arising from ionising radiation.

CRIIRAD considers that future ICRP’s recommendations are going to legalise radioactive foodstuff and to authorise a widespread contamination of the environment.

CRIIRAD carried on a detailed analyse of the ICRP’s project and specially of the decision to set up exclusion levels. This study has demonstrated the superficiality and lack of scientific argument of the text. As soon as the English translation will be achieved, this document will be sent to ICRP. It points out false statements, gross mistakes and errors of judgement. For instance, while pretending to conform the statement to the decision of the Codex alimentarius Commission, the ICRP’s text take no account of the import/production factors the Codex Commission used for its calculations. So, in fact, there are huge and hidden differences between both evaluations. The limits that ICRP recommends correspond to a risk level which is all but trivial.

IN THE NAME OF ITS 4 000 MEMBERS AND OF THE 33 562 CITIZENS WHO HAS ALREADY SIGNED ITS PETITION (3), CRIIRAD demands the withdrawal of the project and a minimum of three years moratorium to organise public debates on how to really improve our radiological protection.

Seeing the seriousness of the stakes, this debate must involve all the real stakeholders (customers, farmers, animal breeders, citizens involved in environmental and public health struggles, and so on). The decision must not be confiscated by a non representative minority. Indeed, when duly informed, the great majority of citizens disagrees with the establishment of so high exclusion levels.

(1) The CRIIRAD laboratory is equipped with gamma spectrometry chains, scintillation liquid detector, radiameters, dosimeters, sampling material Its regularly participates in French and international programs of intercomparison and is approved and certified by the French Department of Health. It is specialised in radiological environment study (evaluation of the level of Chernobyl fallout in France, .detailed mapping of residual caesium-137 ground contamination in France and part of Europe involving 3 000 onsite measurements in 1999-2000, numerous studies on French uranium mines, on radiological impact of routine releases of nuclear plants and so on

(2) This comment is only dealing with the part of the draft « 2005 recommendation » relative to humane protection, not to environment one.

(3) Three months ago, CRIIRAD has launched an international petition against ICRP exclusion levels which has collected, to date, 33 562 signatories. It is only the beginning since the petition has not yet been sent to European citizens and NGOs.

EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Joe Borg, introduced to the Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB) activities on the protection of the wild Baltic salmon

“The EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Joe Borg, was offered and accepted a CCB salmon tie with the text “This person promotes the protection of the wild Baltic salmon”.

The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, DG MARE, was one of the speakers at the conference on Baltic Sea Fisheries: Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives, in Saltsjöbaden, Stockholm, Sweden, on 1-2 October 2009, with 150 participants connected to fisheries management from the Baltic Sea region and wider Europe. CCB participated and displayed and distributed CCB printed materials connected to Baltic fisheries management.

Borg said “the upcoming EC Baltic salmon management plan will certainly contribute to the protection of salmon in the Baltic Sea”.”

Nuclear plants sucking the sea life from British waters, researchers claim

Robin Pagnamenta, Peter Stiff and Lewis Smith, April 14, 2008

The nuclear industry in Britain is killing billions of fish every year and taking a devastating toll of stocks, an Oxford University academic suggests. The impact can be so severe in the worst-affected regions of the seas around Britain that death rates are equivalent to half the commercial catch for some species.

Coastal power plants that have cooling systems that extract water from the sea are to blame for the destruction, according to Peter Henderson, an environmental researcher. Figures he has compiled suggest that the damage to fish stocks is much more severe than records have indicated previously. He calculated that had the young fish killed in power stations survived they would have added thousands of tonnes of fish annually to Britain’s stocks.

With a new generation of nuclear power stations likely to be built over the next 20 years the threat posed to fish stocks needed to be addressed urgently, he said. The net impact on fish populations was poorly understood because too few studies had been carried out.

Dr Henderson is concerned that too little account is taken of the impact on fish stocks of the deaths of many billions of eggs and young caused by coastal power plants, both nuclear and conventional.

The number, weight and species of fish and crustaceans removed from filters at power plants can be measured accurately, but it is much harder to assess the impact of the deaths of eggs, larvae and small fish.

“The number of animals killed is colossal,” Dr Henderson, an associate lecturer at the University of Oxford and director of the Pisces Conservation environmental consultancy, said. “Very small fish get sucked in in very large numbers.”

The impact on populations is compounded by the loss of prawns and shrimps which, like young fish and eggs, form an important part of the diet of larger animals. At Dungeness nuclear power station at Romney Marsh, Kent, where huge numbers of sprats are known to form shoals, the outfall pipes have been known to become clogged with dead fish. “We are talking as many as 250 million fish in as little as five hours,” Dr Henderson said.

In the southern region of the North Sea it was calculated that the mortality of eggs and young was so high for sole that it had been equal to 46 per cent of commercial fishing. Similarly, herring mortality off parts of the East Coast was 50 per cent of commercial landings.

Dr Henderson also identified the English Channel as a badly affected region because of the number of nuclear power stations on the coast on both sides of the Channel. Coal-fired stations and other installations such as those in the petrochemical industry present similar problems, but nuclear plants are among the biggest extractors of water.

Water is pumped from the seas in vast quantities, with British nuclear plants extracting at up to 60 cubic metres (2,100 cubic ft) per second. The Gravelines plant on the French north coast pumps at up to 120 cubic metres per second.

Once the water has been used to cool the reactors it is pumped back into the sea where, having been warmed up, it attracts a variety of marine creatures, many of which get caught up in the intake systems and killed. Fish that are too young or too small to be caught by the 1cm mesh screens – especially pipe fish and eels – travel through them, as do eggs and larvae, and pass into the reactors’ cooling pipes. Many die after being heated to 30C (86F), chlorinated and given small doses of radiation.

The toll of fish stocks can be avoided at new nuclear plants with the introduction of dry-cooling, said Dr Henderson, who called for this method to be adopted, despite the higher costs, if another generation of nuclear power plants is built.

Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, said that the report, which had not been subjected to peer review, raised serious questions about the role of nuclear and other power stations in damaging fish stocks. “I think it’s interesting that the quantity taken by the power stations is large, especially if you look at the possible cost in the future [of] prematurely killing these fish,” he said.

“It has become more significant over the years because of the decline of inshore stocks and, indeed, of the decline of some species going so far that they are reaching the status of becoming endangered, like the eel. We have to look at this problem.”

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science has been commissioned recently to carry out an environmental survey of the waters near where four new nuclear plants are expected to be proposed. British Energy commissioned the survey to check which fish and other marine animals were found around Sizewell, Dungeness, Hinkley Point and Bradwell. Researchers will attempt to establish the quantity of fish in the four areas, how nuclear plants have affected them in the past and what impact could be expected if new power stations were built there.

“All of these sites are suitable for new nuclear power stations,” said Sue Fletcher, of British Energy, who maintained that the industry would “strongly contest” any suggestion that unsustainable quantities of fish were killed in cooling systems. A spokesman for Magnox, the operator of a coastal nuclear plant at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey, said that the group undertook “extensive monitoring activities”.

Emily Lewis-Brown, a marine campaigner for WWF, the wildlife charity, said it was concerned that coastal power stations represented a frequently overlooked, additional burden on British fish populations. “There is evidence to suggest that when power stations stop killing fish, local populations start doing better,” she said.

Could power stations mean the end for eel?

Should we worry about the number of fish slaughtered on the intakes of nuclear power stations? Peter Henderson’s estimates of the impact rely on calculating how many of these fish would have survived to adulthood had they not been broiled. The numbers are large – thousands of tonnes of some species. But while the loss of juvenile fish had little effect on adult stocks in the 19th century, today’s stocks are close to record lows. Best estimates suggest there are 30 to 50 times fewer cod around today, 100 times fewer “common” skate and 20 times fewer turbot. Many species have experienced similar declines because of human impacts, the main one overfishing.

Against this background, losses of juvenile fish take on new significance. In some estuaries and coasts, the power industry may cause significant losses to the fishing industry, and could hold back the recovery of falling stocks. The freshwater eel, for example, has over the past 30 years suffered a Europe-wide 99 per cent drop in juveniles heading up-river from the sea. The reasons include habitat loss and possibly climate change. For its young, power stations could mean the last straw.

Unlike mammals, which invest a great deal of energy in raising a few offspring, fish invest a very small amount of energy in each of hundreds of thousands, to millions, of eggs. Most species abandon them to the whims of ocean currents and never see their young again. Alexandre Dumas said that if all of the offspring produced by a cod were to survive, and their offspring also survived, within a few years it would be possible to walk across the Atlantic dryshod upon their backs. But the seas have never filled with fish like this, because most fish die young. Fishery scientists joke that the average lifespan of a fish is about half an hour. It isn’t quite that fleeting, but life is brief.

Callum Roberts is Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York and author of The Unnatural History of the Sea: The Past and Future of Humanity and Fishing

Electron-beam irradiation

http://www.organicc onsumers. org/Irrad/ EBeamInfo. cfm

E-beam irradiation uses an electron ‘gun’ to send high-speed electrons into a food. The electrons smash into molecules in the food as well as bacteria, damaging their DNA and creating free radicals and new chemicals. Nuclear irradiation uses nuclear materials that emit high-speed gamma rays, which have the same effect on food.

E-beam irradiation is a fairly new technology, joining x-rays and gamma radiation. Until 2000, almost all food irradiated in the U.S. came from facilities using radioactive cobalt-60.

Other than the environmental risks, how does it differ from irradiation using nuclear materials? Because the electrons can be propelled at higher speeds, giving the beams more energy than gamma rays, e-beam irradiation can do more damage to the food than nuclear irradiation.

E-beam irradiation is cheaper to use because the facilities do not require thick walls, containment pools or disposal of radioactive materials. Also, the food can travel through the irradiation facility much more quickly because e-beams have higher energy and penetrate more quickly than gamma rays.

The choice of which irradiation method to use depends on several factors, especially the size and shape of the food to be irradiated. E-beams penetrate approximately one inch, so they are suited for evenly shaped, flat material like hamburger patties. For large, irregularly shaped foods (e.g., a whole turkey carcass) nuclear or x-ray irradiation is necessary.

Unlike nuclear irradiation, e-beam irradiation may induce a trace amount of radioactivity in certain foods

Both kinds of irradiation can injure workers exposed to the radiation.

Both kinds of irradiation are offshoots of military technology. E-beam irradiation was developed for Star Wars. Nuclear irradiation began with “Atoms for Peace” in the 1950’s. Its main advocate is the Department of Defense, which sees nuclear irradiation as 1) a commercial use for nuclear power plants (cobalt-60 has to be manufactured in a nuclear reactor), 2) a way of disposing of nuclear wastes and 3) a way to ‘soften’ the image of nuclear power.

Why we don’t like e-beam irradiation. For those irradiated foods that are labeled, the label does not reveal the source of the irradiation. Food regulatory agencies do not distinguish between nuclear and e-beam irradiation.

If accepted by the public, e-beam irradiation will open the door for a re-introduction of nuclear irradiation. The U.S. Department of Energy is currently considering reopening a nuclear plant in Hanford, Washington, for food irradiation.

Acceptance of e-beam irradiation by the public will support the food industry’s efforts to remove all labels on irradiated foods. If labels are removed, the US will pressure countries that require labels to accept unlabeled US products. If other countries cannot enforce their labeling laws, irradiation will become much more common. And in most of the world, irradiation means only nuclear irradiation, because a reliable supply of cheap electricity does not exist. To summarize, e-beam irradiation in the US is the tip of the wedge that will lead to nuclear irradiation in most of the world.

Who is using electron-beam irradiation? In the US, the military-technology -transfer company Titan has built e-beam facilities in Iowa and Arkansas. They have signed agreements in Japan and Brazil to build e-beam facilities.

US companies that have announced plans to use e-beam irradiation or buy e-beam irradiated products in 2000 include IBP, Excel, Tyson, Kraft, Wal-Mart, Emmpak, Huisken Meats, and smaller meat producers. (Kraft expects to use irradiation for its Oscar Mayer line, although the FDA has not yet approved irradiation for lunch meats.) Because IBP and Excel are two of the largest meat producers in the US, and the big contamination problem is ground beef, some of their e-beam meat is certainly going to fast-food restaurants for hamburgers.

Because irradiated food that is sold to restaurants, schools and other institutions does not have to be labeled for the consumer, it is impossible to know how much irradiated beef and chicken is currently being sold to the public.