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Japan recalls tea over radiation fears

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) May 12, 2011
Japan has detected radiation above the legal limit in tea grown southwest of Tokyo and blamed it on the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant northeast of the capital, officials said Thursday.

Kanagawa prefecture has started a recall of the tea after measuring about 570 becquerel of caesium per kilogramme in leaves grown in the city of Minamiashigara, prefectural officials said. The legal limit is 500 Bq/kg.

The prefecture has asked the city and its agricultural cooperative to recall the tea and stop its sale for now, although the caesium was at a level unlikely to affect human health, the prefecture said.

"It was the first detection of radiation above the legal limit in farm products grown in our prefecture," said Hideto Funahashi, of the Kanagawa agricultural bureau.

"We have not specified the source of the radiation, but we cannot imagine any other than the nuclear power plant."

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, located some 220 kilometres (135 miles) northeast of Tokyo and 280 kilometres from Minamiashigara, was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

It has since leaked radiation into the air, ground and ocean, and engineers say it will take at least another half a year to stabilise it.

The central government has imposed a ban on a range of vegetables and dairy produce from parts of Fukushima prefecture and several neighbouring regions and banned fishing in the vicinity of the plant.

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