News / Asia

Radioactive Food Worries Expand in Japan

A young boy carries his allotment of food at a shelter after being evacuated from areas around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, March 20, 2011.
A young boy carries his allotment of food at a shelter after being evacuated from areas around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, March 20, 2011.

Japanese government officials say food and milk contaminated with radiation is being detected in a wider than expected area. Some shipments are now being stopped, although authorities stress that ingesting the items will not immediately harm people.  

Japan's government is reporting additional cases of contaminated vegetables. Authorities say the radiation detected on produce, in milk and tap water is more extensive than anticipated following radiation leaks from the crippled Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, which was severely damaged by a tsunami.

The giant waves hit the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11 following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Japan is now halting the sale of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture and spinach from Ibaraki prefecture. Officials late Sunday revealed that two more vegetables, canola and chrysanthemum greens, have also been found to be contaminated and in three more prefectures.

Further restrictions on distribution of crops grown in the region are being considered.

But officials say even in the worst cases of radiation detected in the food, a person would have to consume the items for a year before health concerns would arise.

Teams of government and nuclear specialists at the emergency rescue headquarters analyze data from the leaked radiation from the Fukushima nuclear facilitiesin Fukushima, Japan, March 19, 2011
Teams of government and nuclear specialists at the emergency rescue headquarters analyze data from the leaked radiation from the Fukushima nuclear facilitiesin Fukushima, Japan, March 19, 2011
Another worry is rising levels of radioactive iodine and cesium in tap water, with the highest concentrations in Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectures.

At a news conference, the government's deputy chief cabinet secretary, Tetsuro Fukuyama, was asked if he would allow his children to drink the contaminated milk and tap water and eat spinach from the worst-affected areas.

Fukuyama says he does not allow his children to drink milk in the first place, even before this incident or otherwise. But regarding the spinach and the tap water, at the current radiation concentrations, he would not hesitate to permit his children to consume the vegetable or the water.

Officials acknowledge some suspect produce may have been shipped before it could be tested for radiation. 

Traces of radioactive substances in the air and water, believed to emanate from the crippled nuclear plant, have been detected as far as Tokyo, 250 kilometers away.

The Japanese minister in charge of consumer affairs and food safety, is appealing via an official web site posting for the public to act calmly and not be confused by groundless rumors from unreliable sources.

The food and water contamination scares are a further headache for Japan's government, already overwhelmed by the triple crises of extensive earthquake damage, destroyed communities from the resulting tsunami, and the disaster at the six-reactor Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

The crippled facility continues to emit high levels of radiation as workers attempt to restore power for critical pumps and firefighters in tandem spray water on reactor buildings and re-fill fuel-rod cooling pools.

Yet another concern is on the horizon. Weather forecasters predict rain showers in the area Monday.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the precipitation would not pose any health worries, but given the current levels of radioactivity, people should avoid getting wet while outdoors.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More