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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs