Japanese Rice’s Radiation Levels Stump Scientists – Fukushima tests show rice contamination over thought transfer coefficient

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Government officials ordered more tests after detecting elevated levels of radiation in rice crops near the crippled nuclear power plant at Fukushima.

Radioactive substances have already been discovered in beef, milk, spinach and tea leaves, leading to recalls and bans on shipments. But officials have been especially worried about rice, a staple that makes up a significant part of the Japanese diet. Japan grows most of the rice that it consumes.



This is the fact most major news sources are missing

The radionuclide transfer coefficient from soil to rice is assumed to be 0.1, which means the cesium level of the rice from the paddy field in question was supposed to be 300 becquerels, as the cesium level in soil of the field was 3,000 becquerels per kilogram.

“The cesium level [at 500 becquerels per kilogram] of the rice was higher than it was supposed to be, given the radionuclide transfer coefficient. I wonder why such a high level of cesium was detected from this place alone,” an official of the prefectural government said.



According to the prefectural government, the high cesium concentration was detected in brown rice of the Hitomebore brand sampled on Sept. 12.

Because the paddy contained 3,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil, the prefectural government suspected that soil may have mixed into the rice sample. But a reanalysis turned up about the same value.

“We have no idea why so high a concentration was detected,” said Kazuhiko Kanno, head of the prefectural government’s rice paddies and farmland section.

According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, the preliminary and the secondary tests on rice had been conducted in a total of 2,679 locations as of Wednesday.

In the second test, rice samples in the city will be thoroughly examined for radioactive substances, with the number of locations for surveys to increase from the planned 38 locations to about 300.

The radioactive cesium was detected in a sample of rice harvested in the Iwashiro district of the city on Sept. 12.

The level of radioactive materials in soil at the paddy field where the rice was harvested was 3,000 becquerels per kilogram.

Preliminary tests on rice from paddies in the city of Nihonmatsu, about 35 miles from the Fukushima plant, showed the crops contained 500 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, prefectural officials said. Under recently adopted Japanese regulations, rice with up to 500 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium is considered safe for consumption. (A becquerel is a frequently used measure of radiation.)

As a result of the latest findings, officials in Fukushima have ordered further checks on rice from the area, and they may ban shipments if similarly high levels of radiation are found again, prefectural officials told reporters.

Source: www.nytimes.com, via Twitter search for Radiation
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