Health Canada “negligent” on Fukushima nuclear-radiation threats, Liberal MP Joyce Murray claims
The Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP has criticized Health Canada’s “negligent” job informing Canadians of potential health risks relating to radiation levels following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
“I think they have been negligent from the perspective of being clear and transparent with Canadians about this issue, right from the beginning,” Joyce Murray told the Georgia Straight by phone.
“And during the election, there were people in Vancouver that were concerned because they couldn’t get the straight story from Health Canada’s website. They felt that the monitoring was very inadequate and there was not clear messaging from Health Canada. I think people do deserve to have a straightforward assessment. If there’s little risk, that should be backed up.”
In his story in today’s (August 4) Straight, Alex Roslin noted that despite sustained levels of iodine-131 that far exceeded allowable levels, “government officials claimed there was nothing to worry about”.
“The quantities of radioactive materials reaching Canada as a result of the Japanese nuclear incident are very small and do not pose any health risk to Canadians,” Roslin quoted Health Canada as saying on its website. “The very slight increases in radiation across the country have been smaller than the normal day-to-day fluctuations from background radiation.”
Health Canada did not respond to Roslin’s requests for an interview.
Murray said: “I think it’s important that the Straight is raising this issue.”
The two-term MP and one-time provincial MLA said she understands that “Health Canada doesn’t want to create panic where it’s not necessary”, but she said she has a number of concerns.
“I think it’s fair enough to say that it’s possible that there is risk from drinking milk products or drinking rainwater and that, certainly, vulnerable people might want to reduce their consumption,” Murray said.
“The idea of radiation-related toxicity in salmon, I think, is very worrisome, and it’s incumbent on Health Canada to either test or explain why it’s not necessary [to test]. Now, I don’t know salmon’s cycle. It may be that the salmon that are in the area that’s closest to Fukushima won’t be being consumed for a certain time period. So it’s best to test at a different time. I don’t know that, but if that’s the reason, they should be clear.”
Murray claimed that part of the reason things have got to this point is because of the ruling federal Conservatives’ priorities.
“We have never seen them have any priorities on the issue of health,” Murray said. “What are their priorities? Well, they’re on building maximum-security prison cells. There is a different set of priorities by this government.”
Murray said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has to step up. The Straight contacted the minister’s staff in Ottawa but received no reply today (August 4).