compensation, fukushima, mainichi shinbun, nuclear radiation, radiation

Ministry to buy up cesium-tainted rice from Fukushima Pref., mainichi, 12/27/11

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Farm minister Michihiko Kano said Tuesday his ministry will buy up rice from farmers in Fukushima Prefecture whose products mark radiation levels over 100 becquerels per kilogram in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, triggered by the March earthquake and tsunami.

The announcement of the support measure for farmers came after the health ministry proposed last week to lower the maximum allowable radioactive cesium level to 100 becquerels per kilogram from 500 becquerels for rice and other regular food items.

While the tougher standard is set to take effect in October 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will adopt it for the rice-purchasing program immediately to stabilize farmers’ financial profile and isolate tainted rice to eliminate radiation concerns among consumers.

The purchase of about 4,000 tons of rice including more 3,600 tons with radioactive cesium levels above 500 becquerels per kilogram will cost nearly 1 billion yen.

The ministry will start the purchase as early as January and eventually ask Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the nuclear plant, to cover the payments.
Chiba Prefectural employees thresh sheaves of rice in the town of Tako in preparation for radioactive contamination tests. (Mainichi)
Chiba Prefectural employees thresh sheaves of rice in the town of Tako in preparation for radioactive contamination tests. (Mainichi)

Kano also said the ministry will restrict rice planting next spring in areas where rice with radiation levels above 500 becquerels per kilogram was cultivated this year, while it will be considered later how to deal with areas where radiation levels in rice exceed 100 becquerels per kilogram.

Areas for rice planting restrictions will be specified after the Fukushima Prefecture government ends rice tests in February.

Following the accident at the Fukushima complex, the ministry banned rice planting for this year in radiation-tainted areas close to the plant. Overall rice planting restriction areas are expected to expand next year.

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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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