A protester in protective mask holds a placard during an anti nuclear rally in Tokyo, Sunday, March 27, 2011. - Photo by AP

SEOUL: Traces of radioactive iodine have been found in Seoul following the nuclear crisis in Japan, South Korean authorities said Tuesday, adding the country had begun testing fish caught in its own waters.

The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said it had detected traces of iodine-131 in Seoul and seven other places across South Korea.

The institute said in a statement the amount was so small that there was no immediate risk to public health or the environment.

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was badly damaged by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 and radioactive material has leaked into the atmosphere and the sea.

South Korea has since Friday been screening fish caught in its own waters for possible radiation contamination, agriculture ministry officials said Tuesday.

Fish including mackerel and hair tail are being tested for caesium, iodine and other radioactive materials, they said.

“No trace of radiation has been found so far either in our own fish or those imported from Japan,” a ministry official told AFP.

The government is currently testing fish once a week but will increase the frequency if Japan's nuclear crisis worsens, he said.

Fears over the Fukushima crisis have already prompted two major retailers in South Korea, the closest country to Japan geographically, to suspend sales of Japanese fish.

The government last week banned vegetables and some other food imports from four prefectures closest to the stricken nuclear power plant.

South Korea is to carry out extensive safety checks over the next month on all of its own 21 nuclear reactors, which produce 35 percent of the country's electricity. – AFP

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