Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#Radioactive Okinawa Noodles and Pizzas from Radioactive Ashes from Radioactive Firewood from Fukushima

Radiation's reach is indeed long. Okinawa is as far away as you can get in Japan from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and there has hardly been any radioactive fallout. Maybe because of that, businesses in Okinawa don't seem to be much concerned about radioactive contamination in goods.

Here's an example of some Okinawa restaurants having bought firewood from (of all places) Fukushima Prefecture via a distributor in Gifu Prefecture who clearly thought it could get away with it; one of the restaurants made the traditional "Okinawa Soba (noodle)" using the ashes from the radioactive firewood, and has already served the noodles to the customers.

As usual, the familiar refrain from the government officials: "There is no effect on health." They might as well add "Just keep on smiling."

From Okinawa Times (2/8/2012):


Okinawa Prefecture announced on February 7 that 4 restaurants in Okinawa have used firewood from Fukushima Prefecture, and in one of the restaurant the maximum 468 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the firewood, which is about 11 times the level of the national safety limit for radioactive cesium in firewood (40 becquerels/kg). In another restaurant, 39,960 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the ashes after the firewood was burned, which is about 5 times the level of the national safety limit of 8,000 becquerels/kg. The Okinawa prefectural government says, "For both the consumers and the employees at these restaurants, there is no effect on health at these levels."


The distributor who sold the firewood to Okinawa says, "We washed the firewood with a high-pressure washer, and it passed the test by Motosu City [in Gifu Prefecture]. So we thought it would be OK." The distributor will recall the firewood in question.


The restaurants that used the firewood from Fukushima were 3 restaurants offering kiln-baked pizzas and 1 noodle shop offering "Okinawa Soba" noodles. From the firewood and the ashes at 2 restaurants, radioactive cesium exceeding the safety standards was detected.


The noodle shop got the ashes from burning the firewood from the restaurant where radioactive cesium exceeding the safety limit was detected to make noodles. Part of the noodles has already been served to the customers. According to the test by the prefectural government, 258 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the noodles (safety standard is 500 becquerels/kg), and 1,260 to 8060 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the ashes. Of three samples of ashes, one of them exceeded the safety limit [of 8,000 becquerels/kg].


The tests at the remaining 1 restaurant and the shipper are on-going, and the test results will be published in 2 to 3 days.


The Okinawa prefectural government points to the national guideline that says less than 2% of radioactive cesium in the firewood will be transferred to the food being cooked, and says "Even at the maximum 468 becquerels/kg, only 9 becquerels will be transferred to food, and there is no health effect even if you ingest this food." The prefectural government also says there is no effect on the employees who cook with the firewood, because they won't be at the firewood all the time, and the amount of time they are exposed to radiation is short.


The distributor in Gifu Prefecture sold 15.7 tonnes of firewood from Fukushima Prefecture in Okinawa. 8.4 tonnes of it have been sold to restaurants. The remaining 7.3 tonnes are stored in a container near the Naha Port. 0.7 tonne of the firewood sold to restaurants is not used, and the shipper in the prefecture will collect them and ship it, along with what remains in the container, back to Fukushima via Osaka on February 8.

"Okinawa Soba" is like ramen noodles, and instead of brine it often uses lye from the ashes.

If you burn firewood with 468 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, it will result in ashes with 85,176 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium (468 x 182). Even by the lax "standard" of the Ministry of the Environment, you wouldn't be able to bury these ashes in a regular dump, not to mention using it in your garden. You certainly wouldn't want to use them in your noodles, because the transfer rate from the ashes to the noodles seems rather high from the example in the article.

Radioactive beef and radioactive leaf compost have already reached Okinawa, and I hear that Kanto and Tohoku vegetables are freely sold in Okinawa.

Still, the national government, just like last year, is set to do everything to help the producers in Fukushima who have been suffering from "baseless rumors" called radioactive materials.


Anonymous said...

Epic Fail Time!
Okinawa Soba - Smoked Cesium flavor!
Fk'n smart.
Taking Japanese cuisine to the next level.
What you know about radioactivity?

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