Fukushima gov't eyes experiment to reduce radiocesium in green laver

The Fukushima prefectural government is set to launch a demonstration experiment in search of ways to further reduce radioactive cesium content in green laver in the Matsukawaura lagoon in Soma city. Fishermen have refrained from commercial production of dried green laver in the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. All green laver samples tested last spring were found to contain less radiocesium than the maximum limit of 50 becquerels per kilogram set as a voluntary yardstick for commercial shipment by the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association. The local government is seeking to establish a laver-processing method ensuring safety and consumer confidence in the hope of resuming shipments in or after fiscal 2017, beginning next April, and to restore Matsukawaura as one of the largest green laver-producing areas in eastern Japan. The experiment, possibly this fall, will be based on the outcome of a study on the elimination of radiocesium compiled by the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Experimental Station at the end of fiscal 2015 through March 2016. If dust containing radiocesium attaches to green laver being processed, its radiocesium content is expected to rise. The prefecture will urge about 70 members of the association to ensure decontamination and cleansing of their processing facilities. Green laver farms are located around the mouth of the Uda River and other streams flowing into the lagoon, with radioactive substances tending to accumulate after being carried from upstream together with earth and sand. Radiocesium concentration in laver is known to be reduced if laver is cleansed. The prefectural government aims to develop a cleansing method that will maintain the laver's tastiness. (Translated by Kyodo News)