Fukushima rice passes radiation tests for first time since disaster

The earthquake that hit Japan nearly four years ago had forced the country to stop export of fish and other produce from the area near Fukushima nuclear plant

By Vani Manocha
Published: Tuesday 06 January 2015

Rice farmer planting rice in Fukushima, Japan. colincookman/Flickr

Fukushima rice, for the first time since 2011 when a nuclear disaster had hit Japan, has passed radiation tests. The rice had failed the test in 2012 and 2013 and had to be destroyed.

Fukushima official Tsuneaki Oonami, according to a Reuters report, said that about 360,000 tonnes of rice, nearly all of last year's harvest, had been checked and none had tested above the 100 becquerels per kilogram limit set by the government. "The fact that the amount of rice that does not pass our checks has steadily reduced in the last three years indicates that we're taking the right steps," Oonami who heads the department that oversees Fukushima rice farming further said.

The earthquake and the tsunami that hit Japan nearly four years ago had caused a meltdown of three reactors of the Tokyo Electric Power Company and even forced the country to stop export of fish and other produce from the area. A report published in Food Safety News says that since the disaster, rice planting had resumed in the area around the nuclear facility known as the “no-go” zone, which has been redefined to allow access where radiation levels are relatively low. Some farmers and other residents near where the rice paddies are located had to be evacuated and are now only allowed in during the day.

Nearly a month ago, it had been reported that the first rice crops cultivated on an experimental basis near the plant were served at the cafeterias of the environment ministry. However, before this, a few media reports had pointed out that the debris cleanup work by Tokyo Electric Power Company at the Fukushima No 1 nuclear plant may have led to the contamination of rice crops in nearby areas.

In August last year, Japan had decided to resume the export of rice varieties from the area, which had been banned since the disaster.

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