Fukushima Update - Compensation, Testing Rice

Update # 42: August 3, 2011

by Nelle Maxey

At NHK today: Government to test rice for radioactivity

"The Japanese government says that rice harvested in the coming months will be tested for radioactivity.

The agriculture ministry announced at a meeting of rice farmers on Wednesday that rice grown in areas with high levels of radioactive cesium in the soil will be tested both before and after harvest.

If the amount of cesium in the post-harvest test exceeds the government-set safety level of 500 becquerels per kilogram, shipments of rice from that area will be banned.

Farmers will be obligated to dispose of the banned rice. Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is to pay compensation to the farmers.

The government says 14 prefectures from northeastern through central Japan will be subject to the inspections.

Tests will also be carried out in areas where more than 1,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram in the soil or more than 0.1 microsieverts of atmospheric radiation have been detected.

Other municipalities will be asked to refer to the government guidelines when carrying out tests on a voluntary basis." Wednesday, August 03, 2011 17:50 +0900 (JST)

Two stories on the subject of TEPCO compensation payments today. Or that should read, TEPCO, nuke industry and government compensation payments per the second story.

TEPCO paid $900 [million] in provisional compensation

"Tokyo Electric Power Company has so far paid 69 billion yen, or nearly 900 million dollars, in provisional compensation.

That amount includes about 700 million dollars paid since April to residents who've had to evacuate their homes or who've been forced to stay indoors. Households have received as much as 13,000 dollars, while individuals have received as much as 3,900 dollars.

Roughly 105 million dollars have been paid to farmers and fishermen who've had shipments banned or who have suffered damage from rumors about radiation contamination of their products…." Wednesday, August 03, 2011 17:02 +0900 (JST)

Nuclear compensation bill enacted

"Japan's Diet has approved legislation to help Tokyo Electric Power Company compensate victims of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Upper House of the Diet approved the bill on Wednesday with majority support from both ruling and major opposition parties.

Under the law, an entity will be established to help the utility pay compensation to people and industries affected by the nuclear disaster.

Other utility firms that operate nuclear power plants are expected to contribute funds to the new organization. The government will also issue special bonds to inject public funds into the body…." Wednesday, August 03, 2011 12:44 +0900 (JST)

And on the political front another move that could be one of the small silver linings from the black cloud of this disaster. And then again it may be all cosmetic name changes.

Govt comes up with plan for a new nuclear watchdog

"The Japanese government plans to create a new nuclear safety agency, in order to separate regulatory functions from the industry ministry which promotes nuclear energy.

The government has been reviewing the current nuclear administration following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The draft plan calls for detaching regulatory functions of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the industry ministry, and establishing a new nuclear regulatory body under the Environment Ministry….

The Nuclear Safety Commission, currently under the Cabinet Office, would be renamed and placed under the new nuclear watchdog as its advisory organ. [Hmmm-Nelle]…" Wednesday, August 03, 2011 13:54 +0900 (JST)

More on the contaminated beef front. the first story seems to contradict the compensation story above which says that TEPCO has compensated catlle farmers. This story says, not so far. The second story discusses Fukushima local government response to the crisis.

Cattle farmers demand compensation from TEPCO

"Japanese farmers have staged a protest in front of Tokyo Electric Power Company's headquarters in Tokyo, demanding compensation over a ban on beef shipments due to fears of radioactive contamination.

About 350 cattle and rice farmers from across the country took part in the protest on Wednesday against the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The rally was organized by a nationwide group of farmers after the discovery of high levels of radioactive cesium in beef caused a ban on cattle shipments from 4 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi…." Wednesday, August 03, 2011 17:34 +0900 (JST)

Fukushima to begin beef cattle buy-up next week

"A plan by the Fukushima prefectural government to buy up beef cattle from farmers will be launched as early as next week. Producers there have been unable to ship their cattle after beef in the region was found to be highly radioactive. The cattle are believed to have been fed rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit…." Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:19 +0900 (JST)

This final article on beef contamination regards Shimane prefecture which is located on south west coast of Japan far from Fukushima. There is a map at the link:

Map showing location of ShimaneShimane Prefecture to test all beef cattle

"Another local government in Japan says it will conduct radiation checks of all beef cattle to ease consumer concerns about food safety. Shimane Prefecture in western Japan said on Tuesday that it will blanket-test cattle starting as early as next week.

The local government decided to run tests after radioactive cesium exceeding government safety levels was detected in rice straw used for feed at a farm in the prefecture in late July.

Although subsequent tests of beef cattle found far lower levels of radioactivity than the government standard, prices of beef from Shimane have plummeted and wholesalers are avoiding all beef cattle from the prefecture…." Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:19 +0900 (JST)

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