Sunday, September 25, 2011

Unharvested Nihonmatsu rice approaches 500 becquerel of cesium per kilogram

TOKYO—Japan has detected high levels of radiation in rice growing near the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, a government official said Saturday.

A preparatory test ahead of the official examination of the safety of rice in Nihonmatsu, a city about 30 miles west of the stricken power plant, found that a sample of unharvested rice contained 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, the maximum permissible level, the Fukushima Prefecture official said.

Rice with up to 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram is considered safe for consumption, but shipments of rice exceeding that level are banned in Japan.

The cesium level found in the rice sample in Nihonmatsu is the highest discovered since the regulations were set in April, and no rice shipments have been banned, an official at Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said. Rice with 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram still can be shipped.

Fukushima Prefecture will conduct the official tests of rice for radiation in Nihonmatsu as soon as possible at 300 spots—many more than the initially planned 38 spots—as a a result of the latest discovery. Preparatory tests are aimed at determining how many spots rice should be tested in each area.

Fukushima has conducted more than 340 preparatory tests, of which the highest level of cesium previously found was 136 becquerels per kilogram, the Fukushima prefectural official said.

Original WSJ asia article here

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