Dr. Helen Gurney-Smith provides good news to shellfish farmers and consumers about the safety of waters and seafood products in British Columbia.
In 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami resulted in meltdowns in several Fukushima nuclear reactors. This incident led to some concern over the safety of waters and seafood products in British Columbia and the implied impacts for humans. The Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) network was formed to quantify environmental and public health risks in Canada associated with the disaster.
Last year, the scientists tested radiation levels in salmon and found nothing of concern. This year, they did salmon sampling again, but they also included shellfish, which is where Dr. Helen Gurney-Smith was involved.
Helen approached growers around BC – from Prince Rupert to Baynes Sound, to the Sunshine Coast and west coast of Vancouver Island – using a variety of shellfish (oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and mussel hybrids). The group’s studies targeted the tissues that would be eaten by humans (in general, the whole body but, in the case of scallops, only the adductor muscle). The analysis of both the tissue and the shell is complete and the great news that scientists found no detectable levels of radiation.
You can find more about the results here: https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/11/24/results-from-2016-inform-biotic-monitoring-shellfish-and-vancouver-island-salmon/#more-2489. So far, the webpage shows the information from the tissues only. It is important to note that the shells also did not contain any radiation; that information will be posted shortly.
Update December 16, 2016 – The shell radioactivity data is now also available; levels were below detectable limits. You can find both sets of the shellfish tissue and the shell data at: http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/d1b39de7-e525-4cfa-a605-af38bf174555
Dr. Helen Gurney-Smith works with Biological Effects, Ecosytems and Oceans Science at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (St. Andrews Biological Station).
Please share the information with any consumers who may have expressed caution and feel free to direct them to the study!