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Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't Drink the Water. Or Do

Posted by Goldy on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Yet more evidence of how widespread the contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is:

The government ordered Fukushima and three other prefectures Monday to suspend shipments of spinach and another leaf vegetable following the detection of radioactive substances in the produce at levels beyond legal limits, while trace amounts of radioactive substances were detected in tap water samples collected Sunday and Monday in nine prefectures.

While issuing the orders to Fukushima and its surrounding prefectures — Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma — in accordance with a nuclear disaster law, the government's nuclear disaster countermeasure headquarters also asked Fukushima to refrain from shipping raw milk.

Although the World Health Organization warns that radiation in food near the plant is "more serious than anyone thought," the Japanese government keeps insisting that this produce is safe to eat, at the same time it's suspending shipments, a posture that can't help but sow confusion and distrust. Yesterday I stated that despite these government assurances, I wouldn't feed my daughter spinach laced with radioactive iodine at 27 times the permissible level, prompting a surprising debate in the comment thread. But then, I suppose not all readers love my daughter as much as I do.

Curiously, with all the focus on the radioactive contaminants that have been spread over 100 km by air, there has been little attention paid to what is happening to the tens of thousands of gallons of water being sprayed on the crippled reactors:

Following the inspection of leaf vegetables and milk, which are most susceptible to radioactive contamination, authorities have now begun tests to determine the possible impact on fish.

Presumably, most of that water is running off into the Pacific, carrying unknown quantities of radioactive particles with it... and with consequences, I fear, that we'll be hearing about for decades.

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