Tuesday, August 21, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Food Items Exceeding City's Safety Limit Fed to Schoolchildren in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima

Let's all repeat the familiar refrain now: "There is no effect on health."

Officials in Aizu Wakamatsu City, in the Aizu region (or the western third) of Fukushima Prefecture, are so certain that they say so, without "immediate" between "no" and "effect".

The lunches with the contaminated food items had already been served and consumed in the 1st semester of the school year (April - July). One of the same items were also served in school lunches in Koriyama City in Fukushima, in Nakadori (middle third of Fukushima) where radiation levels are much higher than Aizu.

Irony is that two items that exceeded Aizu Wakamatsu City's safety limit of 10 Bq/kg were from outside Fukushima - soybeans from Miyagi and pickled plums from Gunma.

From Fukushima Minyu, local newspaper in Fukushima (8/21/2012):


School lunches in [Aizu] Wakamatsu used food items that exceeded the city's safety limit


It was disclosed on August 20 that the food items that exceeded the city's safety limit of 10 becquerels/kg for radioactive cesium had been used in the school lunches served in schools in Aizu Wakamatsu City in the first semester. The food items were frozen soybeans from Miyagi Prefecture, and pickled plums ("umeboshi") from Gunma Prefecture, and contained 16 becquerels/kg and 17 becquerels/kg of cesium respectively. They were both among items purchased from the Prefectural School Lunch Association (in Fukushima City), and they were substitutions which somehow escaped testing.


The same frozen soybeans have been confirmed to have been used in school lunches in Koriyama City whose own safety standard is also 10 Bq/kg [of radioactive cesium]. The Aizu Wakamatsu City Board of Education has asked the Fukushima Prefectural School Lunch Association to improve the testing. The Board plans to notify the parents at the beginning of the second semester [= usually the beginning of September], and hopes to gain their understanding that it was not the level that would affect the human body.

In a way, Aizu Wakamatsu City is better than most schools in Tohoku and Kanto regions for testing individual items instead of mashing the whole serving and measure, which will not isolate items with high radioactivity.

As many in Japan have noted since the start of the nuclear accident last year, the school lunch program, which in many schools in Japan is mandatory, has always been a dumping ground for substandard or excess food inventories. It has been a profitable business for food distributors with long-term contracts with the School Lunch Association, a public-service (quasi-government) corporation that have provided jobs to many who "have descended from heaven (government positions)". So why change, even after the worst nuclear accident in the country?

If you recall, about this time last year, the mayor of Yokohama (who was by the way the president of BMW Tokyo) ignored the plea from the concerned parents and kept feeding the city's school children with beef that may have contained radioactive cesium that exceeded 500 Bq/kg (provisional safety limit until April 1, 2012). I guess she couldn't pass up a great deal - bargain price on Tohoku beef which used to sell at a premium before the Fukushima accident.

If you also recall, Professor Kunihiko Takeda wrote a poetic post for his blog in early September last year, soon after radioactive materials in food items, particularly for children in school lunches, began to catch people's attention. He was attacked for "fear-mongering". He had been pleading the adults to protect children. In vain, I'm sorry to say. Professor Takeda wrote in his post in September last year (my translation, from my post on 9/5/2011):

A girl doesn't talk...

She doesn't talk. With her clear eyes she looks at everything her mother does. At her side, a boy with bright eyes is excited with the train just passing by.

A middle-aged man shouts. Why can't I sell contaminated vegetables? I took great pains growing them. What about our livelihood?

The girl doesn't talk. She quietly eats her school lunch as it is served. Even if the vegetables are contaminated, she takes in the radioactive materials because she trusts adults.

The angry middle-aged man, with the help of the governor and the board of education, shipped the contaminated vegetables that were sold as foodstuff for the school lunches, and he made the living. The government and TEPCO pretended they didn't know, and the media was afraid to report.

The girl who didn't talk is now sick in bed. Who could have saved this girl who didn't talk?


Anonymous said...

Why do they even bother to set standards when every time they exceed them all they have to say is, "there is no effect on health"? If everything is so damn safe why do we even bother to build devices that can detect such small amounts of "harmless" radiation? I vote we deregulate nuclear waste and store it with all the nuclear supporters, how could they complain?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Deregulating nuclear waste has already been happening. It's now "safe" to bury debris, ashes, dirt, anything, that contain 8000 bq/kg of cesium or less.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly the limit for burial is now 10,000 Bq/kg, increase in July this year.
Thank you Noda,

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I learned to not trust adults. They have plenty of reasons to lie, even to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Wait, this city set 10 Bq/Kg as the safety limit?

m a x l i said...

My recipe for getting rid of old, useless spent-fuel rods:
Ingredients: 1 bunch of spent-fuel rods (standard or MOX - whatever is in season), a large amount of cheap household waste.
Preparation: Preheat oven to 1,000 ºC. Grind fuel rods to a powder. Put powder in a big dish. While stirring continually, add more and more household waste to the powder, until it shows a reading of narrowly just under 8,000 Bq/kg caesium. Bury the mix in the prime minister's garden. Now switch off your oven. Wash your hands after cooking. Enjoy!

Don't worry! It's perfectly legal.

(In case you wonder - why, on earth, preheat the oven? Well, we need to keep the nuclear power plants busy, don't we?)

JAnonymous said...

Well, speaking of school lunches as a dump for expensive stuff you can't sell, let's have a look at another skeleton in this closet...

Nice recipe you got there, maxli. Now if you could add some whale meat that was produced through very important research programs, you would make some more of those heavenly beings happy (those from the fishing bureau of heavenly grace).

As a completely unwanted side-effect, you might save some kids.

m a x l i said...

@JAnonymous. You want to put whale meat in my recipe? I'm not sure, if whale meat is the right ingredient to "thin out" the radiation of the fuel rods. It might need thinning out for itself, before it can legally be dug under.

My alternative solution: TEPCO could stack the whale fillets 15 meters high in reactor 1. So, finally, someone can climb up and have a look what level 5 looks like (after the recently failed balloon mission.) Secondly, the whale meat can never rot, because it gets sterilised constantly by radiation. This way Japan has a strategic reserve of protein and fat for the next centuries.

Anonymous said...

PARENTS, STOP PAYING for your children's school lunches until your city introduces proper testing & controls!
Also, DO NOT trust the Education Authorities! Remember they are the 'The Ministry of Education & Science' - the same people who lied to you about radiation levels in the beginning. DIY/independent testing is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

@12:55 Seems like a good idea! Has it been attempted somewhere already?

TechDud said...

Hold the whale meat; you may have no luck finding any living whale meat soon.

Be sure to thank BP & TEPCO (et al) properly.

TechDud said...



TechDud said...

"Whats wrong with these sick cattle they are slaughtering ? What’s killing the deer ?"

...and i am reminded of the Japanese aversion of American beef (& probably CDN too). Never-mind the fact that cloned beef can be sold in America without labeling, our over-eager psychotic (or dumb as a stick - i apologize to the stick for such comparison) "representatives" are going to allow importation of American cloned beef into Canada without labeling. They will also allow the Frankenstein-like poultry and the fecal-chloroform tainted milk too.

Screw them all; i would rather fast.

Post a Comment