Radiation Poisoning Of Food Supply In Japan 'Is A Lot Mmore Serious' Than First Feared
The impact of radiation on the food chain in Japan is far more serious than first thought, the World Health Organisation warned yesterday.
Tap water, leafy vegetables, eggs, meat and milk in a 50-mile radius of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant were placed on its ‘danger list’.
The organisation warned that Japan needed to act ‘quickly’ and ban food sales from areas around the plant if products there are found to contain excessive levels of radiation.
A spokesman for the Geneva-based agency said radiation in food can accumulate in the body and that it poses a greater risk to health than radioactive particles in the air, which disperse within days.
WHO spokesman Peter Cordingley said: ‘It’s a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometres (12 to 18 miles).
‘It’s safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone.’
Taiwan has already reported that it has found a small amount of radiation on a shipment of broad beans from southern Japan during an inspection of its imports at the weekend – and some major hotel chains and restaurants in Asia have stopped importing raw foods from Japan.
Sushi is off the menu in neighbouring countries and even in Tokyo restaurants where many customers have been shunning it.
At Fukushima, clouds of thick black smoke poured out of the plant’s No.3 reactor yesterday, adding to fears that radiation levels would dramatically increase.
Firemen blasting water into the plant reactors and a courageous group of engineers working inside the complex – which houses six reactors – were ordered to leave immediately during the afternoon when smoke billowed into a rainy sky.
It was yet another disruption to frantic efforts to stem the leakage of radiation, with firemen and plant employees already being restricted to just a few minutes work at a time before seeking shelter to avoid over-exposure to radiation.
Technicians working inside an evacuation zone around the stricken plant have finally managed to attach power cables to all six reactors and started a water pump at one of them to cool overheating nuclear fuel rods.
‘We see a light for getting out of the crisis,’ an official quoted prime minister Naoto Kan as saying, allowing himself some rare optimism in Japan’s toughest moment since World War II.
WHO safety expert Peter Embarek said there could be more cases of contamination within Japan, but he did not think radiation-affected products would find their way into the international market.