16 prefectures’ pastures face radioactivity checks

Kyodo

The government plans to check for radioactive contamination in grass for livestock in the eastern half of Honshu to prevent contaminated beef or milk from entering the market amid the continuing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, officials said Tuesday.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has set allowable radioactive contamination levels for grazing grass and asked 16 prefectures to check fields in areas where higher-than-normal levels of atmospheric radiation have been detected, they said.

The 16 prefectures include Fukushima, where radioactive substances have leaked from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The others are Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.

The ministry will ban the use of overly contaminated pastures and farmers will get redress.

The allowable levels are 300 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of grass for cows and beef cattle, and 70 becquerels of iodine in grass for cows.