Moving Tokyo’s Fish Market: Tsukiji In Trouble
Consumers Union of Japan and the Food Safety Citizens’ Watch are involved in the efforts to get to the bottom of the proposed move of Tsukiji, Tokyo’s famous fish market. FSCW notes that the new site at Toyosu is an old factory site in Koto Ward once operated by Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
This 40 hectares site was found to be heavily polluted with carcinogenic benzene at levels some 43,000 times higher than permitted, and cyanide compounds found to be some 800 times higher than levels considered safe. Levels of other toxins such as arsenic, lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium were also found to be high at the Toyosu site. Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. operated the plant at Toyasu from 1956 to 1976 to produce city gas from coal. The soil and ground water pollution is a serious side-effect from the industrial manufacturing process.
The Wholesales Co-operatives of Tokyo Fish Market has voted against the relocation as details about the soil contamination were made public. Fish market officials feel that they cannot guarantee the safety of the food in case the market is moved. They have set up the Association to Study Tsukiji Market, and are asking everyone in Tokyo to participate in the campaign against the relocation.
“We can only note here that many questions have been ignored about the proposed new site. The authorities are considering spending an enormous amount of money on decontaminating the soil, but there are no concrete data about safe levels. This is not just a problem for Tsukiji or Toyosu, but for many other polluted factory sites around Japan, ” says Takako Hasuo from the Home Nutrition Research Society and Food Safety Citizens’ Watch.
The Food Safety Citizens’ Watch was established in April 2003 as a network of experts to monitor developments and make proposals to the government regarding food safety issues from the citizen’s point of view.