July 11, 2011

 

Japan's Fukushima government plans cattle export ban on caesium scare

 

 

As excessive levels of radioactive caesium have been spotted in beef cattle taken near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the prefectural government is mulling over asking farmers to halt cow exports, officials said Saturday (Jul 8).

 

The request would apply to cattle in areas that have been designated as "emergency evacuation preparation zones," which lie mostly between 12.42 and 18.64 miles from the nuclear plant.

 

Radioactive caesium exceeding government-set limits was detected in 11 cows shipped in May and June from a part of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, which is located within one of the emergency evacuation preparation zones. All 11 cows were shipped by the same farmer.

 

According to the prefectural government, a total of 2,924 beef cattle have been shipped from the designated areas since late April.

 

The prefectural government has already asked the Minami-Soma municipal government to voluntarily refrain from shipping beef cattle, and the prefectural government is now considering asking livestock farmers to refrain voluntarily from shipping beef cattle from anywhere in the designated zones.

 

The prefectural government will make its decision after holding discussions with livestock farmer associations.

 

According to prefectural government officials and other sources, about 5,700 beef cattle were being raised in the zones, which include parts of Minami-Soma and Tamura, before the first accident at the nuclear power plant occurred.

 

Cattle shipments from the zones were temporarily suspended after the nuclear accident, but in late April the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said shipments could resume if the prefectural government took certain safety steps, such as inspecting the surface of the cattle's bodies.

 

Of the 11 cattle that contained excessive levels of caesium, six were shipped in May and June, meaning they likely passed the prefectural government's inspections.

 

The slaughterhouse in Tokyo where those six cattle were butchered also tests some meat for radioactive substances, but not all.

 

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government's food standards section, the six cattle were sold at a market held on the premises of the slaughterhouse.

 

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the metropolitan government are investigating the subsequent distribution routes of the meat.

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