Saturday, August 20, 2011

4,000 Potentially Radioactive Cows Without Radioactive Rice Hay May Have Been Shipped by One Farmer in Fukushima

Radioactive beef from Fukushima meat cows (then Miyagi, then Iwate, then...) was first in the news in early July. Then, the culprit was very quickly identified as radioactive rice hay that was stored outside when Fukushima I Nuke Plant started to spew out radioactive materials.

First they said the rice hay was fed to the cows because there was nothing else to feed due to supply disruption after the March 11 earthquake. Then it turned out that rice hay was integral part of fattening the meat cows before they were sold to the market.

Then the news broke on August 19 that some meat cows from Fukushima were highly radioactive even without radioactive rice hay.

And then it turns out that 4,000 such cows may have been shipped since the accident by one cattle farmer who owns cattle farms in Namie-machi and in two other towns (Tamura City and Katsurao-mura). The radiation level on the farm in Namie is very high, as you can read in the Kahoku Shinpo article below.

Well, that instantly doubles the number of meat cows potentially contaminated with radioactive cesium. I say potentially, because most of the meat has been consumed already and there's no way to test it.

From Kahoku Shinpo, local Fukushima paper (8/21/2011):


Regarding the 4 meat cows from a cattle farm in Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture that exceeded the provisional safety limit for radioactive cesium (500 becquerels/kg), the Fukushima prefectural government disclosed on August 5 that the meat from 5 additional cows from the same farm contained radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit. From this farm in Namie-machi, total 229 cows including the 9 that were contaminated were shipped to Yokohama City between March 15 and April 19.


The farmer who owns this cattle farm in Namie-machi also owns farms in Tamura City and Katsurao-mura, and total 4,000 cows in his three farms were shipped after the Fukushima nuclear accident.


From the 5 cows, 593 to 786 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium has been detected. The first 4 cows tested 513 to 997 becquerels/kg. The contamination level is similar.


Upon the news of radioactive contamination, the cattle farming section of the Fukushima prefectural government investigated the three farms on August 19 and 20. At the farm in Namie-machi, the entrance to the barn measured 15 microsieverts/hour maximum; 35 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected from the grass growing outside, and 5.5 microsieverts/hour radiation at the feed trough in the barn.


At the farm in Katsurao-mura, they measured inside the barn and on the grass outside, and the storage facility for the dried hay. The air radiation level 1 meter off the ground was between 0.5 to 0.8 microsievert/hour. At the farm in Tamura City, the air radiation level 1 meter off the ground near the entrance to the barn was 0.3 microsievert/hour.


The farmer says he fed the cows with imported hay, not the rice hay. The cause for cesium contamination is not yet known. However, cows lick the dirt to obtain minerals. They may also have eaten the grass outside when the radiation level was higher.


The farm in Namie-machi is located in the "planned evacuation zone" designated on April 22, but the contaminated cows had already been shipped by then. Fukushima Prefecture measured one cow each from the farms in Katsurao-mura and Tamura City on April 28 when the farmer shipped the cows, but radioactive cesium was detected at only 60 to 90 becquerels/kg, below the provisional safety limit.


The farmer has already evacuated outside Fukushima, and there is no cow left in the farms. The national government was going to lift the shipping ban on the meat cows in Fukushima Prefecture, but it decided not to when the radioactive cesium contamination [without radioactive rice hay] was discovered.

Before the Fukushima accident, the amount of radioactive cesium in beef in Fukushima was max 0.055 becquerel/kg. In the post-Fukushima Japan, over 9,000 times the pre-Fukushima level of radioactive cesium has to be considered "safe". (Data on radioactive cesium in Fukushima beef from Japan Chemical Analysis Center database, in Japanese.)

Namie-machi and Kazurao-mura have been designated as "planned evacuation zone". Part of Tamura City has been designated as "evacuation-ready zone". The national government still plans to "revise" these designations and return the residents, as Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is now "stable".

15 microsieverts/hour radiation would result in the annual cumulative radiation exposure of 131 millisieverts, and that's external radiation only.

Poor cows. After having been fattened up to the max for sale, suffering high cholesterol and high blood pressure, they had to be zapped by radiation...


FigNewton said...

When farmers/growers (not all, of course) are interviewed here, I find it interesting they seem to blame the consumers for not buying Fukushima products, rather than TEPCO or the government for causing, then confusing the whole process.

This whole catastrophe expanded unnecessarily because of the J-government; instead of confine, test, & compensate, they've distributed, mixed, & confused.

Sorry farmers. I feel your pain, but I won't knowingly buy your products. Maybe try your guilt-trip on the root cause of this debacle.

Anonymous said...

fucking idiots!!!! w/o consciences ... check your souls farmers/growers..... your dead too live in this island even you sold your contaminated meat, got dirty money ...greedy!!! praying these farmers, growers got the most malignant cancers don`t forget your in fukushima!!!!! inhale the fresh glowing radiation!!!!! really wtf ! blaming the consumers instead of tepco? something fishyyyy...

craig c. said...


Ex-SFKは「And then it turns out that 4,000 such cows may have been shipped from one cattle farm in Namie-machi alone since the accident. The radiation level on the farm is high, as you can read in the Kahoku Shinpo article below. 」と書いたけど新聞は「この農場を所有している福島県葛尾村の農家は田村市と葛尾村にも農場を所有し、3カ所で飼育していた約4000頭の牛が、原発事故後に出荷されていたことも分かった。」と書いた。



Your English is very good, which is why I'm puzzled that you've misled your readers in regards to the number of cattle shipped from Namie town. The article clearly states that 4000 cattle have been shipped from 3 different farms, and furthermore only 229 are reported as having been shipped from the most contaminated farm.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the slaughterhouses be contaminated?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@craig c., it was an incomplete description. But you don't need to scream "mislead". I did want to point out that one farmer owns these three farms that shipped 4000 cows.

Corrected sentence: "And then it turns out that 4,000 such cows may have been shipped since the accident by one cattle farmer who owns cattle farms in Namie-machi and in two other towns (Tamura City and Katsurao-mura). "

As to the contamination level, air radiation is not a good indicator any more. The first cow found with high radioactive cesium without having fed radioactive rice hay was from Tochigi Prefecture.

Anonymous said...

".. it was an incomplete description. But you don't need to scream "mislead". I did want to point out that one farmer owns these three farms that shipped 4000 cows."

That's even more implicative. Will craig c. issue an apology??
There you go.

craig c. said...

Thanks for making the correction. I don't think I screamed misled, but I did point out that your error makes a big difference. (Especially because the radiation level between the farms is so different, and that cows tested at the other two farms were within the "safe" level - whether that's reliable or not. Of course no radiation would be best.) It's important to be as clear as possible with the facts surrounding Fukushima, because a simple mix-up can start a 伝言ゲーム effect which leads to people reporting inaccurate information as fact. I actually came to your website, because someone had quoted your original opening statement, and thus was spreading your inaccurate information.

Anyway, once again, thanks for making the correction.

I have no idea why the person in the comment above thinks I need to issue an apology.

Anonymous said...

Philippe here
Hello, I am a bit late on this topic, I feel very uneasy with a post by Asahi
in english (I don't read more japanese than old prints of Sazae-san) where it is clearly written that the health of the cows is very bad. Is it from the fattening diet, or from radiations, or both, I wonder.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Philippe, it is from the fattening diet. These cows are fed to the max, just in time for the market. They suffer high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and are highly susceptible to infection because of their poor health from "unhealthy" diet.

Makes me want to finally become a vegetarian, although I only buy grass-fed cows..

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