Nuclear waste water and food safety
Dear Food and Environmental Hygiene Department,
I am writing to express my concern over seafood safety in light of the Janpanese government's decision to dump nuclear waste water (to places that are not yet announced) (see Dr Lin Zhang's letter to the letter https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art...). Here are the questions for the department to answer under the Code on Access to Information
1. What measures does the centre take to ensure the safety of seafood available in the market?
2. Back in 2010, right after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, how did the centre respond to the possible nuclear contamination of food imported from Japan?
3. In light of the recent decision of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste water to the sea, what measures, if any, does the department plan to take to step up the monitoring of radioactive particles in sea food and other food items that might be affected?
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Dear Simon Wang,
I refer to your application on 27 April 2021 for the information
on food safety related to Japan's plan on discharge of treated waste
2. Your application has been received and is being processed. As
more time is required to prepare for the required information, pursuant to
paragraph 1.16 of the Code, you will be advised further in relation to
your request on or before 17 May 2021.
3. Should you have any questions, please contact me at 2867 5505.
(LOH Shing Wai)
for Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene
Dear Simon Wang,
Further to my email on 1 May 2021, our reply to your application
dated 27 April 2021 is provided in the ensuing paragraphs.
2. The Japanese Government announced earlier the decision to
discharge the wastewater generated in the cooling process of the reactors
at the Fukushima nuclear power station into the ocean in about two years'
time (i.e. 2023). The plan has aroused international and public concern.
According to the announcement, the nuclear wastewater will be purified
and diluted to meet relevant international standards before being
3. Since the wastewater contains various radionuclides, we
understand that many organisations, fishery operators and members of the
public are concerned that the discharge of wastewater from the Fukushima
nuclear power station into the ocean would have serious impact on marine
ecosystem, the food chain and food safety. The Hong Kong Special
Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has expressed grave concern about
the impact of the discharge plan on food safety, and has strongly
requested the Japanese authorities to provide data from various aspects
and information on control and surveillance, including the method and
actual location of the wastewater discharge, the list and the
concentration of the radionuclides in the wastewater, the frequency and
volume of discharge, as well as the monitoring programme on the wastewater
treatment and the surrounding environment. The HKSAR Government has made
it clear to the Japanese authorities that they shall provide all relevant
information, formulate and promulgate a highly transparent and robust
surveillance programme including the measures and locations of monitoring
at source, the radionuclides and types of food under surveillance, ways
for release of surveillance results and contingency mechanisms, etc., and
should not discharge the nuclear wastewater unilaterally without the
consensus of the international community.
4. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) implemented additional control
and surveillance measures in 2011 for food products imported from Japan.
Since then, the CFS had tested a total of more than 750 000 samples of
such products, including aquatic products, and none of the samples were
found to have radiation levels exceeding the guideline levels of the Codex
Alimentarius Commission. Currently, the import of vegetables, fruits,
milk, milk beverages and dried milk from Fukushima is still prohibited in
Hong Kong. Radiation certificate has to be produced for the import of
game, meat, poultry, poultry eggs and aquatic products from Fukushima and
its four neighbouring prefectures (i.e. Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and
Gunma), whereas radiation certificate and exporter certificate are
required for the import of vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and
dried milk from the four prefectures. The CFS will continue to adopt a
risk-based principle in conducting radiation tests on Japanese food
products under its routine Food Surveillance Programme.
5. Regarding the Japanese Government's plan to discharge wastewater
from the Fukushima nuclear power station into the ocean, the HKSAR
Government has requested the Japanese authorities to provide data from
various aspects and information on control and surveillance. We will
carefully examine the information provided by the Japanese authorities and
the assessments made by international expert organisations, etc., and
conduct risk assessments with the relevant Government departments as
appropriate to determine whether monitoring work on Japanese food should
be adjusted accordingly and whether additional measures are required to
ensure food safety and safeguard public health. Depending on the
circumstances, we will not rule out increasing the tests on Japanese food
imports and tightening import control on food products (including fishery
and agricultural products) from Fukushima and its neighbouring areas.
6. It was understood that the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) has proposed to set up a technical working group to follow up and
monitor Japan's discharge of the nuclear wastewater. You may also wish to
note that the China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs remarked that the IAEA
has confirmed it would invite experts from China to join the proposed
technical working group. The HKSAR Government will keep a close watch on
the assessments made by relevant international organisations on the
discharge plan. We relayed to the Japanese authorities that they should
not discharge the wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power station into
the ocean unilaterally without the consensus of the international
community so as to avoid bringing about irreversible impacts on the
environment. We will also keep a close watch on the assessments made by
relevant international organisations on the discharge plan.
7. Should you require further information, please feel free to
contact us. Thanks.
LOH Shing Wai
for Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene