VLADIVOSTOK (Russia): Russia is testing Pacific Ocean fish and other sea life for radiation as Japan battles to contain a nuclear crisis after a huge quake and tsunami, researchers said on Saturday. The Pacific Fisheries Research Centre, a top marine body located in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, said it started testing samples of water, bed deposits and sea life on Friday.

It had so far not detected any increase in radiation, with any fallout likely to be too small to contaminate Russian waters, said the centre known by its Russian acronym TINRO.

It said four of its vessels were at sea, one of them tasked with taking samples off the South Kuril Islands which are also claimed by Japan where they are known as the Northern Territories.

“After preliminary tests, collected samples will be forwarded to TINRO Centre’s labs for further analysis,” its deputy general director Yury Blinov said.

Experts also said Russia’s main traditional fishing grounds in the Far East — the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan and the Bering Sea — had not been affected by the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima No.1 plant.

“As of today, we cannot speak about radioactive contamination of marine bioresources in the Pacific Ocean’s open waters,” said TINRO researcher Galina Borisenko.

Any possible fallout from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant would be too small to contaminate fish in Russian waters, she added.

The March 11 quake and tsunami critically damaged the Fukushima No.1 plant northeast of Tokyo, sending radioactive substances leaking into the air.

The Japanese government said on Saturday that abnormal levels of radiation had been detected in milk and spinach near the stricken plant.

Russia reinforced radiation controls across the Far East but authorities say radiation levels remain normal and there is no reason for panic.—AFP

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