More radioactive problems on the food chain

In Radiation on March 22, 2011 at 5:29 AM

Radioactive problems are rising as more vegetables are being found tainted with radiation, although maybe “tainted” is not the appropriate word when we talk about 54,000 becquerels of iodine detected in 1 kilogram of spinach grown in open air in the city of Hitachi (Ibaraki prefecture) while the the food sanitation law set the limit at 2,000 becquerels.

Worse is iodine is not alone, they have detected 1,931 becquerels of cesium (limit 500 becquerels) in the same sample of spinach.

75 kilometers south of the nuclear plant (way far than the 30 km safety limit of the government) the level of iodine in the spinach grown in open air in Kitaibaraki city in Ibaraki was 24,000 becquerels and the cesium level rose to 690 becquerels (on Friday).

By Sunday, Yoshifumi Kaji (Ministry official) said that tests found excess amounts of radioactive elements on canola and chrysanthemum greens, in addition to spinach and that the areas were the vegetables were found included three prefectures that previously had not recorded such contamination.

Also, raw milk contaminated by iodine was found in four municipalities as far as the town of Iitate, 35 kilometers northwest of the plant.

Tap water is contaminated, too. In the village of litate were detected 965 becquerels of iodine in one kilogram of tap water (Fukushima Prefecture) when the limit set by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan is 300 becquerels.

And top of that, the Education Ministry said iodine or cesium was found in precipitation and dust in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Yamagata, Tochigi, Gunma, Iwate and Niigata Prefectures.

Now, the Japanese officials are repeating the same mantra: reported radiation levels are “not expected to immediately affect human health” and people must “act calmly”. It’s true, these radiation levels aren’t normal but they don’t suppose a health risk a this moment.

What the government is not taking into account is that the serious problem with radioactivity is when the process is accumulative, and with the current data, Japanese people at Fukushima and surroundings are receiving radioactive particles from multiple sources like water, vegetables, milk, dust and soon with rain, too.

Again, the gorvenment response is as vague as Ibaraki Governor asking to each municipality to voluntarily halt shipments of spinach grown in the Prefecture, requesting to agricultural cooperatives in the Prefecture of Gunma to halt their shipments and recall those that have been shipped, and the calling on all farmers in Fukushima to refrain from shipping or consuming their milk.

I think that is necessary to take strong measures and forbid food found with radiation levels equal or superior to the safety limits by law. The nuclear power plant is going to spread radionuclides for a long time (at least weeks and probably months or even years) and the inhabitants will get high and sustained levels of radiation.

This is another blow to the economy of Fukushima and other close Prefectures, but it’s time for the government to be brave and put first the health versus the money. If not, they are going to pay in time a really high bill when the Ministry of Health have to give treatment to many cancer sufferers.

And I expect they don’t keep making foolish things as making now public radiation levels at Narita and Haneda airports to avoid foreign airlines not using them, when these data must be available from the start. What is the meaning of hiding relevant information to people? If you are afraid of doing something wrong, do it right, and let people can evaluate your work and criticize you when they are not satisfied.

  1. They’re not doing it. There is no international accepted program, which helps people. ALARP for example, helps only the atomic industry. They are going to raise the radiation dose limit to blur the truth.

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