Friday, September 16, 2011

#Radioactive Rice? ND, Says Fukushima Prefecture

From Jiji Tsushin (9/16/2011):

 福島県は16日、収穫後のコメを対象に放射性物質の有無を調べる本調査の結果を初めて公表した。県によると、北西部の喜多方市の4地点で12~14日に採取した「ひとめぼれ」や「ヒメノモチ」の玄米について、全地点で検出限界(1キロ当たり5~10ベクレル)を上回る放射性セシウムは検出されなかった。同市の調査対象は52地点で、残る地点の結果は今後、公表される。

On September 16, Fukushima Prefecture announced its first result of the main survey of radioactive materials in the harvested rice. No radioactive cesium above the detection limit (between 5 to 10 becquerels/kg) was detected in the rice harvested between September 12 and 14 in 4 locations in Kitakata City, located in northwest Fukushima. Total 52 locations in the city are to be tested, and the results for the remaining locations will be announced later.

 県は本調査に関し、各市町村ごとの対象全地点でセシウム濃度が国の暫定規制値(500ベクレル)を下回った場合、コメの出荷を自治体単位で認めることにしている。このため、16日は出荷解禁に至らなかった。

The prefectural government will allow the shipment of rice by the municipalities as long the density of radioactive cesium tests below the national provisional limit (500 becquerels/kg) in the designated locations within a city/town/village. [In case of Kitakata City, therefore] the September 16 survey result was not enough to allow the city to ship rice.

Some Japanese consumers believe neither the report nor the Fukushima prefectural government. Their "baseless" suspicions include:

  • They must be mixing last year's rice.

  • Jiji Tsushin and Fukushima Prefecture, deadly lying combo.

Personally, I think Jiji is better than Kyodo News.

There are eye-witness report of sighting the last year's rice bags with proof of inspection from other prefectures piled up high at rice distributors and wholesalers in Fukushima.

My suspicion: How many points did they measure? One rice paddy or two per town/village?

Let's see. Kitakata City is located north in "Aizu" region of Fukushima Prefecture, the western one-third of the prefecture with less contamination than the rest of Fukushima. According to Japanese wiki, today's Kitakata City is the result of the mergers of 17 towns and villages over time. Total 52 testing locations for 17 towns and villages within Kitakata City would mean about 3 locations per town/village. (Fukushima Prefecture's site says 2 samples per town/village.)

There should be more than 3 rice farmers in each town/village, and the farmers have more than one rice paddy.

My second suspicion: Why don't they incinerate the samples to really measure below a decimal point, if they do care about safety for the consumers?

Well the answer is obvious, that they don't care. But before the Fukushima accident, the highest density of radioactive cesium from Fukushima rice (white rice though, not brown rice) was 0.629 becquerels/kg back in 1977, from rice grown in Fukushima City. (data: Japan Chemical Analysis Center)

My third suspicion: How did the prefecture test the samples?

Were the samples given to them by the farmers, or did the officials go to the locations and took the samples from the field?

Saitama Prefecture was busted this time for trying to do the former to test the tea, like it always does when testing the safety of food. The prefecture announced the intention to test the tea, and the tea farmers were to submit the samples by a given date.

There seems to be hardly any public organization in Japan that sides with the consumers.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

No independent verifiable means of testing their claims,you'll just have to take their word for it.

Personally i would decide my own selfish needs outweigh the self interests of organisations i don't know,and buy my groceries sourced outside the Isle of the Damned.

Learn something from the Jap government,if these people don't evacuate and instead insist on remuneration for dispersing radioactive material then to hell with them.

netudiant said...

Given the long half life of cesium 137 and the demonstrated fact that plants do not absorb enough cesium to materially reduce the soil burden, this looks to be a perennial problem.
So the question is whether the rice distributors can mingle the most contaminated rice with enough cleaner production to stay within the government standards.
At a guess, the production from the worst hit areas is only 5% of the national total, so there may be enough leeway to obfuscate the problem. It would be very helpful to have actual production data to back this up.
In that context, the recent effort to remediate with sunflowers should provide a useful data point on the expected radioactive burden of the rice produced in the area.

Anonymous said...

Why?

You don't see people forming an orderly queue to buy contaminated produce anywhere other than Japan do you?

Anonymous said...

There is a long list of things that no one will be seeing anytime soon.

Foreign diplomats touring the facility.
The Olympic and Paralympic games.

The UN,WHO or IMF relocating to Fukushima.

Asylum seekers,Koreans..

Investment in Fukushima Industry.

Belief in Government spokespersons.

Deaths officially attributable to nuclear fallout..

Miracles.

Anonymous said...

@ netudiant - are you saying that the radiation isn't going to get taken up in rice plants? If so, what's all the fuss about checking for radiation in rice??? confused.

netudiant said...

The amount of cesium taken up is unfortunately only a small fraction (one 2000th in the case of sunflowers) of the amount actually in the soil. So the rice will be just as contaminated next year and next decade as this year.
It might be more helpful to add non radioactive cesium to the soil so that the amount of radioactive cesium taken up is proportionately reduced.
The soil will remain dangerously radioactive for several centuries, so there needs to be some clear thinking about countermeasures. Tearing up a 100 million cubic meters of topsoil is not a suggestion indicative of clear thinking, at least imho.

Sam said...

I am super confused. Can we buy Thailand rice in Japan? Or seaweed from overseas? I know we can buy Australian beef in Japan right?

However, convenience store doesn't sell imported goods. Am I right?

What are the places in Japan that sells import goods?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

These days, large super market chains all sell imported food items. Don't look for them at Seven Eleven.

Anonymous said...

If you are in Tokyo, any good grocer in the Shin-Ookubo district should be able to supply you with imported rice, likewise any other metropolitan area with a higher population of residents whose roots lie outside Japan. The 'Hanamasa' grocery chain is also pretty good for imported frozen meat and fish, but in my experience fruit and veges are the most difficult. Anyone else got any tips on where to shop for vegetables?

Anonymous said...

@netetudiant "the rice will be just as contaminated next year and next decade as this year."

Have you considered the sinking down into deeper areas of soil over the years? After several years levels might drop off a little.

There is a German 20 year post Chernobyl study which shows some interesting decay info, but it doesn't look too good.

http://www.lfu.bayern.de/strahlung/tschernobyl/doc/bodenschutzbericht_2006.pdf

In German, but there are graphs

Atomfritz said...

Please, I ask everybody not to falsely interpolate from one crop species to another.

Plants have different mineral needs and this determines what radioisotopes they collect.
Just compare mushrooms with sunflowers, rice or whatever.

It is not without reason that the official measurements only look at Cesium-137 and no other dangerous radioisotopes.

Regarding internal contamination and its detrimental health effects, radioactive Strontium is by order of two magnitudes more dangerous than Cesium, for example.
Its biological half-time is way longer than that of Cs, it collects in the bones, resulting in blood changes, bone marrow cancers setting on after 10-20 years.
Big part of the devastating effects seen in the ukrainian and belorussian children are caused by Strontium.

As Neptunium-239 and Strontium-89 provide the initial beta dose peak in bones and lungs (like I-131 does the initial gamma peak in the thyroid), the Strontium-90 makes up for the long-term beta effects (like I-129).

And the reason for not looking at Pu-241 contamination is to avoid to take note of the extremely hazardous Americium-241 that accumulates years later, as the Pu-241 decays.

And so on.
We need to know what elements which plants collect and then measure these.

For example, what if sunflowers and rice do not collect Cesium, but suck up all Strontium they can get?

Alex75 said...

Can anyone explain to me why the japanese government in food testing doesn't search for radionuclides other than cesium and iodine?

Anonymous said...

Where the hell are the independant testers??? This is perhaps *the* most important thing that needs testing, Japanese eat this stuff three times a day FFS, drink it as sake and weave the stalk into tatami (best in Japan from Miyagi).

SOMEBODY must be testing the rice other than the clowns in government. Where are Greenpeace?

Anonymous said...

well I have read 'suggestions' from free journalists that it is indeed the farmers and the farm coops that are givine the task of taking soils samples, and that they are purposely diggimh the soil down to 15cm or more where the cesium content is less dense.They can also choose the paddies that are less contaminated, if nobody is watching.

you can buy Jasmine rice and basmati rice in Indian grocers and probably chinatowns etc.

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