Rice gets radiation all clear
A rice farmer in Koriyama on Monday became the first grower of the year to start shipping his crop from Fukushima Prefecture after the local government detected no radioactive contamination and said there was no reason to worry about the quality of the harvest.
Good to go: Farmer Shunichi Sakuma loads his early rice crop for shipment Monday in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, becoming the first local grower to win authorization as the nuclear crisis stokes concerns about the safety of the food chain. KYODO PHOTO
Shunichi Sakuma, 55, shipped nearly 4 tons of rice from fields about 60 km from the leaking Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Good to go: Farmer Shunichi Sakuma loads his early rice crop for shipment Monday in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, becoming the first local grower to win authorization as the nuclear crisis stokes concerns about the safety of the food chain. KYODO PHOTO Shunichi Sakuma, 55, shipped nearly 4 tons of rice from fields about 60 km from the leaking Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government tested Sakuma's brown rice for radiation Friday but found no problems. His brand, Mizuho Kogane, should be on local supermarket shelves by Tuesday.
"I am relieved because I'm able to ship rice and I can sell it without any worries. I want the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to put an end to the (nuclear) accident so that farmers can keep growing rice here on this land," he said.
The prefecture was set to test another 15 samples of early rice from six other municipalities in Fukushima. The prefecture will approve shipments if radiation levels are found to be safe.
Back surge blast theoryKyodoThe March 15 explosion in the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant might have been caused by a back surge of hydrogen caused when an adjacent reactor blew its top the day before, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
On Thursday, Tepco measured radiation in filters at a junction between the exhaust pipes of reactors 3 and 4 and found evidence that the flow of radioactive steam and hydrogen from unit 3 had been reversed, pumping the gas back into reactor 4, they said.
Radiation of 6.7 millisieverts per hour was gauged near the pipe junction. Contamination levels in reactor 4's exhaust pipe were 0.1 millisievert near the reactor and 0.5 millisievert farther away, they said.
Radiation in the exhaust pipes is normally higher closer to the reactor, suggesting the unit 3 blast reversed the flow of steam and hydrogen and forced it into the No. 4 building, Tepco said.
The utility initially believed the muffled blast at No. 4 was caused by the exposure of spent fuel usually kept underwater in the facility's storage pool.
The possibility that hydrogen had been transferred from one unit to the other was first raised in May, after it was found that the spent fuel had not been as severely exposed as thought.
Containment vessel probeKyodoFUKUSHIMA — Workers on Monday began inspecting a containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 2 power plant in preparation for a probe into the impact of the March 11 quake-tsunami disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
A group of about 10 workers is checking radiation levels and other conditions at the plant's No. 4 reactor, which automatically shut down with three others after the magnitude 9.0 temblor.
It will be the first time since the disaster that anyone has entered a containment vessel at either the No. 2 plant or its crippled, radiation-leaking counterpart about 10 km north.
Reactor 4 was the first to successfully have its cooling systems activated in the aftermath of the quake. In addition, gauges at the reactor show no abnormalities, which prompted Tepco to initiate Monday's inspection.
The utility said it also plans to send workers into the containment vessels of the other three reactors at Fukushima No. 2, which all achieved cold shutdown.
Source: newsroom - farmingnewsdaily.co.uk