Japan mourns victims, still battling quake-triggered nuke crisis (3)

08:48, July 12, 2011      

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Adding to concerns over nuclear safety standards in Japan, high levels of radioactive cesium were detected in straw fed to cattle at a farm in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, local authorities said Monday.

Radioactive contamination has also been detected in the meat of cattle shipped from that region, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Saturday.

According to the local government, 11 cows shipped to a meatpacking plant in Tokyo from a farm in Minami-Soma, contained radioactive cesium measuring 2,300 becquerels, which is 4.6 times the provisional legal limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.

The original food source is likely to be straw contaminated with an average of 75,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, officials said.

The radioactive straw was kept in a roofless section of the farm and it is believed that a series of hydrogen explosions that occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, led to the straw becoming contaminated, according to prefectural officials.

Kohei Otsuka, vice minister of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, said Monday that if necessary, the government would begin testing all the meat of cows shipped from farms in areas surrounding the troubled power plant to ensure the meat is safe to eat.


In other developments, recent surveys conducted by Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission in the wake of the nuclear disaster revealed that of more than 1,000 children screened, 45 percent of them tested positive for thyroid exposure to radiation in the Fukushima area.

The tests were conducted due to the massive amounts of radiation leaked into the air, sea and ground from the quake and tsunami-damaged No. 1 nuclear power plant and among children who tested positive for thyroid exposure, the amounts measured 0.04 microsieverts per hour or less in the majority of cases, with the largest exposure being 0.1 microsieverts per hour -- equivalent to a yearly dose of 50 millisieverts for a 1-year-old.

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