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Rice planted in Fukushima town as farming trials begin

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17 May 2019
Rice has been planted in a Japanese town which hosts Fukushima’s damaged nuclear power plant eight years after residents were first evacuated.
Officials and locals in Okuma town planted several crops, including sticky rice and premium quality rice, across more than 17,000 square feet of paddy fields.
The rice planting is the latest sign of life slowly starting to return to Okuma, one of a string of so-called “ghost towns” that were immediately evacuated due to soaring radiation levels after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Evacuation orders for Okuma – which along with Futaba town, co-hosts nearby Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – were lifted last month, while its municipal government building also reopened earlier this week.
New public housing for former residents displaced by the disaster is also expected to open next month, while an agricultural manual is being prepared  to encourage people to start growing crops again.
Government officials in Okuma have been monitoring radiation contamination in produce while conducting small-scale farming trials for several years, with test results reportedly showing levels below the national safety standards for food.
 
Fukushima was once famed for its high quality food produce, from peaches and grapes to rice and fish, with the region’s producers hit hard by the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Over the past eight years, the Japanese government has taken numerous steps to attempt to reassure the world that food from Fukushima is safe to eat following a regional clean-up, with rigorous radiation testing in place for all produce.
More than 50 countries introduced import restrictions in the immediate aftermath of the meltdown at the nuclear power plant, with 23 still keeping food limitations from Fukushima in place.
Last month, the Japanese government criticised a World Trade Organisation ruling that supported a continued South Korean ban on imports of a number of Japanese fishery products.
Meanwhile, locals who are slowly starting to return to the region as evacuation orders are lifted are apparently turning to increasingly inventive ways to rebuild local farming businesses.
 
One group of farmers in Hirata village, just under 28 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, who were also hit hard by the disaster, have garnered widespread attention in Japan for their unusually-flavoured habanero soft ice cream, made from locally grown chilli peppers.
Government officials are also pinning hopes on the 2020 Olympics giving local revitalisation efforts a high-profile boost, with a number of baseball and soccer games scheduled to take place in the region.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima may get rice variant that absorbs less radiation

Thank you, now I feel so much safer:

Mutant rice to be introduced into Fukushima prefecture as part of efforts to dispel lingering negative publicity.

Capture du 2017-06-13 18-25-17.pngThe Koshihikari rice variant with low cesium absorption, right, looks almost indistinguishable from normal Koshihikari rice.

 

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki Prefecture–A new type of the famed Koshihikari rice strain that absorbs just half as much radioactive cesium as the regular variety may be grown in Fukushima Prefecture.

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization hopes to introduce it into the prefecture as part of efforts to dispel lingering negative publicity after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster of 2011.

Satoru Ishikawa, who leads NARO’s Crop Safety Unit, and his co-workers used ion-beam irradiation to cause a gene mutation in Koshihikari to block the discharge of sodium ions from its roots. That enhanced the concentration of sodium ions in its root cells and suppressed the intake of cesium.

When the mutant was test-grown on contaminated soil alongside conventional Koshihikari, the cesium concentration in the mutant turned out to be 55 percent lower in unpolished rice grains and 59 percent lower in rice straw, both well below the government’s safety limit.

The mutant had about the same number of rice ears and about the same yield of unpolished rice grains as traditional Koshihikari, and its taste was evaluated by an external organization as being “almost equal” to that of the parent strain.

The use of potassium ion fertilizer to suppress cesium absorption has been effective in reducing cesium, but that method is expensive and labor intensive.

(Use of the mutant suppresses cesium uptake) more effectively when combined with the use of potassium fertilizer,” Ishikawa said. “We hope introduction of the mutant will be considered as an option in areas where farming is going to be resumed.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706130005.html

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima village farmers plant rice for 1st time since nuclear disaster

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Farmers have begun planting rice in a village in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster contaminated the soil with radiation, leading to forced evacuations.

Eight farms in the village of Iitate plan to resume rice-growing this year in a combined area of about 7 hectares, the Japan Times reported. That area is significantly smaller than the 690 hectares available to farmers before the Fukushima disaster.

It marks the first time since the area was evacuated that farmers have been able to plant rice for commercial sales. Evacuation orders were lifted at the end of March for parts of the village.

The farmers will conduct radiation tests on the rice before shipping it to retailers. However, no rice grown in Iitate has shown radioactivity levels beyond the safety standard since experimental planting began in 2012.

Meanwhile, the government also took steps to encourage evacuees to return to the area on Wednesday, with an upper house committee passing a bill aimed at boosting governmental support so that displaced individuals can return to their homes earlier than planned.

The bill, which is expected to soon be passed by the upper house plenary session, will allow the government to fund more infrastructure rebuilding in the area, including roads and removing radioactive substances.

Also on Wednesday, the mayor of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to introduce an advanced medical care system in the city, which is located north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Minamisoma is also developing a system which will give residents access to doctors online, in an effort to quell health concerns.

In March 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, making it the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

https://www.rt.com/news/387907-rice-farmers-fukushima-nuclear/

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima village begins sowing rice for first time since nuclear crisis

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A farmer plants rice at a paddy for commercial sale in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, on Wednesday for the first time since the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011. In the forefront is a sign warning against an electric fence set up for wild boars.

FUKUSHIMA – Rice planting for commercial sales began on Wednesday in a village in Fukushima Prefecture for the first time since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

A total of eight farms in Iitate plan to resume growing rice this year in a combined area of about 7 hectares after evacuation orders were lifted at the end of March for large parts of the village.

With much of the area contaminated by radiation following the nuclear crisis, the total arable area has shrunk from around 690 hectares before the disaster, according to the village.

The farmers will conduct radiation tests before shipping their rice. No rice grown in the village has shown levels of radioactivity exceeding the safety standard since experimental rice planting began in 2012.

(I feel) comfortable. We want to get back even a step closer to the village of six years ago,” said Shoichi Takahashi, 64, while working a rice planting machine.

The municipality has supported farming efforts, including installing electric fences around the area to protect the rice fields from wild boar and working the soil after decontamination.

Measures to encourage evacuees to return to Fukushima are also slowly underway.

On Wednesday, an Upper House committee passed a bill aimed at boosting government support so evacuees can return to their homes earlier in areas which are off-limits in principle in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear meltdowns.

The Upper House plenary session is expected to clear the bill soon, allowing the government to fund more infrastructure rebuilding such as roads and get rid of radioactive substances in the area.

The bill already cleared the House of Representatives on April 14 but deliberations in the upper chamber stalled after Masahiro Imamura, who served as reconstruction minister, sparked outrage following a series of gaffes and ultimately resigned on April 26.

Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday to help introduce an advanced medical care system in the city north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Sakurai made the plea during his meeting with Abe at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The evacuation order was lifted last July in one part of the city but medical institutions and clinics had been on the decline even before the natural disasters and nuclear crisis.

In a bid to ease residents’ health concerns, the city office is developing a system where residents have access to doctors online.

Goichiro Toyoda, head of Medley Inc., which provides the remote medical care system, asked the government to revise regulations to allow a broader reach for the program.

Abe said he will do his best.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/10/national/fukushima-village-begins-sowing-rice-first-time-since-nuclear-crisis/

 

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment