All new Fukushima rice clears radiation tests for 1st time

25 August 2016

All bags of 2015 rice harvested in Fukushima Prefecture have been found to contain radioactive cesium below the Food Sanitation Act standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram. It is the first time that no bags have exceeded the standard since radiation tests began with all 2012 crops after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The number of rice bags topping the limit had been on the decline until last year.

Radiation tests were conducted on 10,496,697 bags of 2015 rice between Aug. 20 last year and Aug. 19 this year. Of the total, 10,495,897 bags or 99.99% were found to show radiocesium content below the minimum detectable level while the rest tested below the legal standard. The tests involve all bags and some of the bags subjected to detailed screening due to their detected radiocesium count.

Detailed screening, conducted on bags of rice that may have radiocesium content above the standard, found 71 bags or 0.0007% of the total in excess of the limit for 2012 rice, 28 bags or 0.0003% for 2013 and two bags or 0.00002% for 2014. Rice not subjected to radiation tests, including rice produced for private consumption by farmers, may have radiocesium content exceeding the limit but is not allowed to be distributed through the market.

Prefectural government officials believe that the success in weeding out contaminated rice has resulted from efforts to prevent rice plants from absorbing radiocesium, including the use of potassium chloride-based fertilizer, as well as the natural attenuation of cesium radiation.

(Translated by Kyodo News)