FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — The Fukushima prefectural government laid open Monday how it tests local rice for radioactive substances, showing to the media the cropping of sample plants for preliminary tests on brown rice at a paddy field in the town of Tanagura.
The tests of preharvest rice in 48 of the prefecture’s 59 municipalities are designed to identify areas that require intensive examinations in postharvest tests, it said.
The remaining 11 municipalities are without crops due to their locations inside the no-go zone around the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and other affected areas.
The initial tests cover unprocessed rice from about five plants each from five spots per paddy field. Municipalities with rice contaminated with more than 200 bequerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram will have more samples tested than others after harvesting, it said.
Radiation Affects Sales
More than 40 percent of married women in the Kansai region are reluctant to buy newly-harvested rice grown near the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to a recent survey.
The survey — conducted in late August by University of Tsukuba assistant professor Kiyokazu Ujiie — indicated that contamination fears held sway even in cases where no radiation had been detected in the rice.
Some 44.7 percent of respondents in the Kansai region and 34.9 percent in the Kanto region said they would not buy rice harvested near the Fukushima plant at any price, even if radioactive contamination had not been detected. The survey also showed 52.9 percent of respondents in the Kanto region, and 60.4 percent of those in the Kansai region, were reluctant to buy rice containing radiation less than one-tenth of the government-imposed limit.
Nuclear Safety Drills
In the past the prefectures have conducted annual drills in areas up to 10 kilometers away from nuclear plants in line with government anti-disaster guidelines. The drills were designed to evacuate nearby residents and have the organizations concerned coordinate the process.
But evacuation zones put in place after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March have far exceeded those previously planned by the government.
Three prefectures — Aomori, Fukushima and Ibaraki — said they are unable to hold drills this fiscal year. Six prefectures, including Hokkaido and Fukui, said they are undecided about doing so.
They explained that without new government accident guidelines, they cannot plan drills or set evacuation areas.
The remaining 4 prefectures, including Ehime and Saga, said they will hold drills by the end of March by establishing temporary guidelines and by expanding evacuation zones on their own.
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