Rice with radiation levels exceeding Japan’s safety standards was found for the first time since the March earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, the country’s farm ministry said on Wednesday.
Japan’s normal rice harvest in autumn has been closely monitored near the nuclear accident site at Fukushima in northeast Japan after excessive levels of radiation were found in beef, vegetables and seafood in the area.
Crops harvested in a Fukushima farmer’s rice paddy were found to contain 630 becquerels of radioactive caesium per kilogramme, compared with the government-imposed cap of 500 becquerels, a farm ministry official said.
“So far, rice with radiation levels exceeding 100 becquerels (per kilogram) was found only at 0.8 percent of more than 3,000 monitoring points,” he said.
The farmer who grew the rice in question and nearby farmers in Fukushima city, 60 km (38 miles) northwest of the crippled nuclear plant, have been asked not to ship their rice, the official said.
“The ministry, along with Fukushima prefecture, will look into what has brought radiation levels this high at this particular location.”
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. working with the government, hopes to stabilise the crippled reactors at the site by the end of the year.