A new study of radiation levels in Japanese farmland contained some disturbing results.
As The Telegraph reported today:
A team of international researchers said food production would likely be “severely impaired” by the elevated levels of caesium found in soil samples across eastern Fukushima in the wake of meltdowns at the tsunami-hit plant.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, suggests farming in neighbouring areas may also suffer because of radiation, although levels discovered there were within legal limits.
“Fukushima prefecture as a whole is highly contaminated,” especially to the northwest of the nuclear power plant, the researchers said.
The problem is cesium:
The study looked at caesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years and therefore affects the environment for decades.
The legal limit for concentrations in soil where rice is grown of the sum of caesium-134 and caesium-137, which are always produced together, is 5,000 becquerels per kilogram (2.2 pounds) in Japan.
Fukushima and neighboring prefectures had elevated cesium levels:
“The east Fukushima prefecture exceeded this limit and some neighbouring prefectures such as Miyagi, Tochigi and Ibaraki are partially close to the limit under our upper-bound estimate,” the study said.
“Estimated and observed contaminations in the western parts of Japan were not as serious, even though some prefectures were likely affected to some extent,” it added.