Tokyo, March 23 (DPA) Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told two prefectures near a troubled nuclear power plant Wednesday not to sell vegetables and raw milk as authorities had detected radioactive materials in the produce.
Authorities said they had found more radiation-tainted vegetables in Fukushima, including cabbage and broccoli, after high radiation levels were detected in 11 types of produce grown in the prefecture, which hosts a troubled nuclear power station, damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Health ministry officials detected radioactive caesium – 82,000 becquerels, 164 times the legal limit of 500 becquerels – in kukitachina, a leafy vegetable, from Motomiya City, 60 km west of the plant.
Kan also instructed Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato to order residents not to eat leafy vegetables grown in the prefecture for the time being.
The Nikkei business daily reported Wednesday that the ministry found radioactive caesium in 25 of the 35 vegetables inspected in Fukushima.
The ministry also detected radioactive iodine in parsley and raw milk in the neighbouring prefecture of Ibaraki. The prefecture’s parsley holds 19.4 percent of the nation’s market, while its raw milk has a market share of 2.3 percent, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The shipment of spinach and kakina, another leafy vegetable, from Fukushima and three neighbouring prefectures was banned Monday, along with shipment of raw milk from Fukushima.
Meanwhile, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said Tuesday that radioactive iodine at levels more than 126 times the legal limit and radioactive caesium nearly 25 times higher were detected in seawater near the plant.
The radiation levels do not pose an “immediate” risk to human health, the government said. But authorities did not deny the possibility of fishery products becoming unacceptably tainted.
At the troubled nuclear plant, progress was made as the operator restored lighting in the control room for the overheating number reactor No.3 late Tuesday, which could help workers repair the reactor’s key cooling functions to avert a potential disaster.
External power reached all six reactors Tuesday at the plant after the final two reactors, No.3 and No.4, were reconnected.
The magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami killed 9,301 people, with 13,786 people still missing as of early Wednesday, the National Police Agency said. The toll is expected to climb much higher.