14 arrested for smuggling irradiated seafood in Shandong
Customs authorities in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, detained 14 people for smuggling frozen seafood from Japan, including irradiated high-end seafood from waters near Fukushima prefecture, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.
The group has smuggled over 5,000 tons of frozen seafood – including shrimp and king crab – valued at 230 million yuan ($34.5 million) into China over the past two years, according to an announcement by the Qingdao Customs District (QCD) posted on its official website on Monday.
Some of the high-end products were from Fukushima, one of 12 Japanese prefectures from which China has banned any seafood imports due to the contamination of their waters after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, according to CCTV.
Before sending the products to Shandong, smugglers transferred the seafood from Hokkaido to Vietnam, where they changed the items’ packaging and altered their production dates to evade taxes and avoid quarantine, Li Fudong of the QCD Anti-Smuggling Department told CCTV.
An investigation by officers from the Anti-Smuggling Department in the neighboring city of Yantai traced some low-priced seafood on the local market to a Shandong-based import corporation that had opened branches in East China’s Fujian Province, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.
Qingdao preventive officers arrested the smuggling group’s head in June after he returned to China from the US.
Most of the smuggled seafood products were sold in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Shandong-based dzwww.com reported.
An expert from a tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research center who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Monday that radioactive nuclear materials can cause irreversible damage to the human body at the cellular level. The expert said such radiation can even damage our DNA and may be present in the body for many years before symptoms occur.
She said that remaining nuclear material may still affect sea life in the waters surrounding the Fukushima site, even though five years have passed since the nuclear accident.