NIHONMATSU, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – The Fukushima Prefectural Government is now checking all bags of rice for radiation.
Gov. Yuhei Sato, who visited an inspection center in Nihonmatsu on Saturday, the first day of the comprehensive inspections, said that he “wants safe Fukushima rice to be delivered across the country.”
The checks were deemed necessary to allay fears caused by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power station.
The first day saw 14 30-kg bags of early harvest rice produced in Nihonmatsu inspected.
The equipment took only about 10 seconds to check each bag, with all of the bags showing radioactivity levels below 11 becquerels per kilogram, the lowest measurable limit.
Rice farmer Takayuki Anzai, 58, smiled after his first bag passed the check.
“I don’t think that consumers will feel safe immediately, but we have to demonstrate scientifically proven safety and security,” Anzai said.
The size of this year’s rice harvest in Fukushima Prefecture is expected to total some 360,000 tons, or some 12 million bags, according to the prefectural government. Most of the checks will be finished by the end of the year.
In October, the central government plans to tighten the allowable radioactive cesium level in rice to 100 becquerels per kilogram from the current 500 becquerels.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government has decided to apply the new limit to all newly harvested rice in advance. Rice with radioactivity levels above the limit will be discarded.