All 2015 Fukushima rice clears radiation tests, 1st since nuke disaster

8 January 2016

A little more than 10 million bags of new rice harvested in Fukushima Prefecture last year all cleared radiation tests mandated by the prefectural government after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. It was the first time since the disaster that every bag of newly harvested Fukushima rice was found to show less than the maximum standard of 100 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram set under the Food Sanitation Act.

In cooperation with local agricultural cooperatives and other partners, the prefectural government has made a pitch for measures to reduce the effect of radioactive cesium such as the use of potassium chloride, which prevents the grain from absorbing the isotope, and for deep plowing of soil followed by reverse plowing. Prefectural officials believe these efforts to curb the absorption of radioactive cesium as well as the natural attenuation of the isotope are behind the favorable outcome of tests.

By the end of last year, the local government screened 10,307,119 bags of the 2015 crop of Fukushima rice for radioactive substances and found 10,306,498 of them or 99.99% below the lowest allowable level of 25 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. The number of bags that exceeded the 100-becquerel standard has been on the decline, totaling 71 in 2012, 28 in 2013 and two in 2014 before coming to zero last year.

When limited to rice harvested in and after August, which is regarded as new rice in general, no bag exceeded the standard in tests through the end of December in 2014. So the 2015 findings mean that no new bagged rice topped the standard for the second straight year.

(Translated by Kyodo News)