Tuesday, January 3, 2012

They Will Grow Rice Again This Year in Fukushima

I could almost hear the words: "This time, it will be different!"

Up to, say summer last year, the farmers could have been excused for the lack of information given to them (for those who relied on the government information to be handed to them). But now nearly 10 months after the accident and the radioactive contamination in Fukushima Prefecture cannot be hidden any more (except to most of the residents who have remained, apparently) and some rice farmers are suing TEPCO for the damage, if they grow rice again in Fukushima this year hoping theirs will be cesium-free but knowing full well that they may not be, what do you call it?

Then again, doing what the government tells you to do has been the mode of operation in Japan for such a long time, and the farmers may not see any need to change it now.

First, Yomiuri Shinbun (1/4/2012):


Regarding the rice harvested in part of Fukushima that was found with radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg), the Fukushima prefectural government has decided to instruct farmers to give more potassium fertilizer when they plant rice for 2012.


According to the prefectural government, potassium fertilizer works to limit the uptake of radioactive cesium by the rice plant.


In Fukushima Prefecture, the rice grown in 31 farms in 9 districts in Fukushima City, Date City and Nihonmatsu City have been found with radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional limit. The prefecture and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries surveyed the rice paddies and found that the higher the level of radioactive cesium in rice, the lower the potassium level in the soil.


According to Yoichiro Omomo (environmental radiation biology), advisor to the Institute for Environmental Sciences (in Rokkasho-mura, Aomori Prefecture), potassium is one of the three major nutrients of the plants with the other two being nitrogen and phosphorus, and is more easily absorbed by the plants than cesium which is chemically similar. In the soil that is deficient of potassium, it is easy for the plants to absorb cesium.

Omomo is the former chairman of the Institute, and continues to serve as advisor.

Never mind that the problem is not the lack of potassium but the overabundance of radioactive cesium (and strontium most likely). Yomiuri is quiet on the density of radioactive cesium and other nuclides in the soil where radioactive rice was grown and harvested.

So the Fukushima prefectural government and the Fukushima rice farmers are eager to grow rice again this year, hoping that excess potassium will block cesium. If it doesn't, oh well just do what they did last year - sell it to the government to get money.

Asahi Shinbun also reports that the Ministry of Agriculture is very much willing to let the Fukushima rice farmers continue to grow rice. Read between the lines.

From Asahi Shinbun (12/27/2011):


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries published the policy on regulating the cultivation of rice next year [2012] following the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The Ministry will ban the cultivation of rice in the areas where radioactive cesium exceeding 500 becquerels/kg was found in the rice harvested this year [2011]. The Ministry is also considering banning the cultivation in the areas where radioactive cesium exceeding 100 becquerels/kg was found in the rice.


It is because the new radiation standard for food starting April 2012 will be 100 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium] for rice, while the current provisional limit is 500 becquerels/kg.


So far, 8 districts including Onami District in Fukushima City had rice that exceeded 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium and the shipment of the rice was halted. The farmers in these districts will be banned from planting rice in 2012.


In addition, as to the areas where radioactive cesium in rice exceeded 100 becquerels/kg, the Ministry will decide after reviewing the result of the emergency survey that was conducted by the Fukushima prefectural government on 25000 farms in 29 municipalities. Rice with high cesium and rice with low cesium coexist in the same district, and a careful consideration is needed to decide whether to ban the cultivation in the entire district when a test in one location exceeds 100 becquerels/kg. The decision is to be made in March 2012.


This year, the government considered the transfer rate of radioactive materials that fell on the rice paddies, and decided to ban the rice cultivation in the districts with rice paddies whose soil tested 5000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Based on the soil tests, the rice cultivation was banned in the areas inside the 20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and the surrounding "planned evacuation zone" and "evacuation-ready zone".

The transfer coefficient that the national government picked is 0.1, which had no scientific basis. From the past data, scientists were saying the coefficient was more like 0.01 or less. The government picked the number ten times that, to be on the safe side. That was a political decision, not scientific. Then, the Asahi article says that the soil tests, which were sporadic at best, found that the areas inside 20-kilometer radius were unsuitable, and "planned evacuation zone" like Iitate-mura, but nowhere else.

As to banning the cultivation in the areas that had rice with 100 becquerels/kg and above, it is pointless because there are so many farms that they didn't test in the main survey they did in September and October, whose result was announced with great fanfare. At that time, 2 farms per old municipality were tested, one bag each. The areas that were supposed to be "clean" may not be, simply because they were not even tested.

Nowhere in the Asahi article does it say that the Ministry or the prefecture will conduct the soil sample tests throughout the prefecture. That would cost too much for them.

The Fukushima prefectural government is negotiating with the Ministry, saying the Ministry should buy up all the rice from the district if the rice from one farm exceeds 100 becquerels/kg.

In order to plant rice in spring, farmers turn over the soil in fall. It's already been done, further mixing the radioactive materials in the rice paddies. They will do so again in spring.

I tweeted the Yomiuri article above to my Japanese readers. Someone commented, "Oh you must be careful when you talk about Fukushima and people in Fukushima, because their feeling is hurt." How about the health of consumers who have been eating untested Fukushima rice?


Anonymous said...

Denial is a very powerful state to overcome. Hurt feeling? Will the untested rice be used with all that seaweed harvested from the not so clean Pacific? Please help each other, the government is not. Everyone is being hurt in some way from this disaster, and maybe, the best way forward is together with a strong voice. The sooner, the better.

Anonymous said...

F*fk their hurt feeling!

They're f*cling evil idiots, the f*cling lot of them!

Sue f*cling Tepco for f*cks sake.

The foolish Japanese will be the death of all life on earth for thousands of years.

Time to rise up people, start destroying the destroyers!

no6ody said...

I sincerely doubt any Fukushima resident will have their feelings hurt by any of this--unless they work for T3PC0rpse. The residents did not put the radioactive waste on their own fields.

Extra potassium does slow the uptake of cesium, but does not prevent it. As noted, there are other radioactives to worry about too. Unless people are starving, there is no reason to feed them rice that is only slightly less radioactive. The burden of proof is on those who claim it will solve this problem, and I'd like to see it.

The screams of agony from the future can be heard already if you have the right kind of mind.

Anonymous said...

Farmers or curious people should go look at what happened in the Marshall Islands after the nuclear testing. They are STILL adding potassium fertizer to the soil --lets see the tests were in the mid 1950s. So farmers can add the fertilizer..BUT. So check out the results in the Marshall Island testbed. Oh..and check out the health issues suffered there as well in the citizens.."severe" and some special birth defects in children. Might as well see what will be happening in Japan...no one knew in the 1950s..but with the results showing with Chernobyl and Marshall Islands..cant be so innocent acting now..

Anonymous said...

I just want to say a big "Thank You" for your blog. I am German, currently living in AREVA-country (which cannot be much different from TEPCO-country. After all, they are dealing MOX-fuel).
What happens in Europe must be closer related to the events in Japan, as our perception tends to be disturbed by the chaotic movement close-by. Germany is said to stop nuclear energy, but we continue to depend on the energy produced in France. I do not understand the latest decisions at Siemens but sense another fraud somewhere.
As regards the lying and denying, there is not much difference in the statements of politicians and the Maf... nuclear industry there and here.

Japan is there to look at. Your responsibility may be much bigger than you are aware of. I salute the people of Japan, knowing that they have overcome many difficulties and horrible threads in the past. You are working for all of us.

joytek said...

I am not sure if Japanese rice is being imported into South Korea but radioactive sea water certainly has arrived at its shores:


I have moved my food testing videos from vimeo to youtube due to being able to upload a lot more at a time ... at first I did not expect to find enough produce that would test so high, but after just having found two different items (both kelp ... and the second one from the famous OTTUGI brand!) within a few days that register highs over 0.8 uSv/hr I now know that this is not an isolated occurrence but will be a growing trend as time goes on.

I realize that the values are nothing like what the people of Japan are exposed to on a daily basis but those levels are truly astronomical so there is no comparison possible ... however even ingesting food items with "just" 0.8 uSv/hr doses is most likely suicidal over the long term.

I will continue to search for other contaminated items in the stores and markets of Korea and will be posting tests on my youtube channel. Please tell everyone you know about this because the world needs to wake up from its ignorant daze.

Thank you.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@joytek, please post the dates of manufacture for those seaweed packages and the background radiation level. Is there any package that was clearly made and packed before March 11 2011? Anyway you can have the nori tested for nuclide analysis? Radiation measured with the survey meter doesn't mean much, I'm afraid. Several hundreds becquerels/kg of K-40 would be there.

joytek said...

I wrote this in the enenews forum:

...I am also trying to get some “big guns” to help me … there is this Korean youtuber who has access to some gamma spectroscopy equipment … I have written a request to him to meet up with me and identify the exact isotopes in my samples. Here is one of his vids in which he has found a Cesium hot spot:


... so if this works out I will be able to provide some sort of isotope analysis, I hope.

One thing for sure is that other seaweed packages tested at less then half of these (at the store) so these are definitely "hotter" ... whatever the reason ...

The background was around 0.22 uSv/hr ... and there are no dates of manufacture on these items just expiry dates ... that is one thing that surprises me in Korea ...
as for the K-40 ... I eat tons of bananas, I mean like 15-20 a day ... and make smoothies out of them too ... they never tested even remotely as "hot" so I am not sure about that argument ... but point well taken nonetheless.

I will keep you posted on the developments regarding the isotope analysis.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@joytek, the background of 0.22 microsievert/hr is extremely high for Korea, to the point it's almost impossible to be that hot. If you were in that kind of environment for one year you would get almost 20 millisieverts in external radiation in one year.

As for the date of manufacture, manufacturers will tell you if you call them and ask. In Japan, the date of manufacture is one year before the date of expiry.

Anonymous said...

I think .22 μSv/hr is more like 1.9 millisieverts a year.

Anonymous said...

There was a story of a nuclear sub sunk or broken at the bottom of the Yellow Sea this past summer. Whatever became of that?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Oops sorry, yes, 1.9 millisievert per year.

Anonymous said...

Will someone scorch the fields?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 5:58PM, that's exactly what Professor Hayakawa of Gunma University wants to do.

joytek said...

Actually the 0.22 uSv/hr is the LOWEST background reading in my house (and anywhere outside). This is in the kitchen. The reading in the rest of my house is around 0.36 uSv/hr and the reading outside is higher still (see my video) ... the pavement in front of my apartment is over 0.7 uSv/hr and the air radiation at chest level is 0.4 uSv/hr. Now, I know that there is a lot of granite in SK so that might have something to do with the elevated readings but they used to be around 0.32 uSv/hr a few months back before some big rains and before the snow fell ...

joytek said...

here is the street radiation video:


Post a Comment