Japan on Saturday confirmed the radioactive contamination of food products in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant which was knocked out by the March 11 temblor and tsunami. However, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in Tokyo that “these detected levels of radiation would not affect the health of consumers”.
In a separate statement, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Japan had “confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine in food products” from the Fukushima area. About the possible hazards, the IAEA said: “Though radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about eight days and decays naturally within a matter of weeks, there is a short-term risk to human health if radioactive iodine in food is absorbed into the human body.”
Two “critical” remedial measures were, however, being adopted by the Japanese authorities, said the IAEA. First, “Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission recommended to the local authorities to instruct the evacuees leaving the 20-kilometre area [around the Fukushima nuclear power plant] to ingest stable (not radioactive) iodine.” Residents of that area were earlier asked to leave for safer places. Secondly, Japan had now ordered a stoppage of the sale of all food products from the Fukushima Prefecture, the IAEA noted.
In his earlier comments in Tokyo, Mr. Edano, while playing down the concerns over radioactive contamination of food, said a ban on the transportation of such products to other places from Fukushima would be “considered, if necessary.”
Engineers fighting to restore main electricity at the Fukushima Daiichi plant connected a power line into it, and said they would continue pumping in seawater round the clock.
After an epic week-long tussle to control overheating at the facility, where the tsunami knocked out backup generators, the crews were expecting to restore electricity to four of its six reactors, officials said.