Russia is considering joining China in banning Japanese seafood imports after Japan released treated radioactive water from its Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea and is seeking talks with Japan on the issue, a Russian regulator said on Tuesday.
Japan began releasing water from the plant into the ocean last month, drawing sharp criticism from China. In retaliation, China imposed a blanket ban on all aquatic imports from Japan.
Russia’s food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Tuesday it had discussed Japanese food exports with its Chinese counterparts. Russia is one of the largest suppliers of marine products to China and is seeking to increase its market share.
“Taking into account the possible risks of radiation contamination of products, Rosselkhoznadzor is considering joining the Chinese restrictions on the supply of fishery products from Japan,” Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement. “The final decision will be made after negotiations with the Japanese side.”
So far this year, Russia has imported 118 tonnes of Japanese seafood, the regulator said.
Rosselkhoznadzor said it had sent a letter to Japan about the need to hold talks and requesting information on Japan’s radiological tests on exported fish products by October 16, including tritium.
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Japan says the water is safe after being treated to remove most radioactive elements except tritium, a radionuclide that is difficult to separate from water. It is then diluted to internationally acceptable levels before release.
Japan said criticism from Russia and China was not supported by scientific evidence.
On Monday, in its latest report on water testing, Japan’s Environment Ministry said analysis results of seawater sampled on September 19 showed tritium concentrations were below the lower detection limit at all 11 sampling points. and would not have negative effects on human health and the environment.
Russia also found no irregularities in marine samples used for testing in Russian areas relatively close to where the treated water was released, Rosselkhoznadzor’s Far East department said on Tuesday, Interfax reported.
Russia exported 2.3 million metric tons of seafood last year worth about $6.1 billion, about half of its total catch, with China, South Korea and Japan the biggest importers, according to its fisheries service of Russia.