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Op-Ed: Radioactive cesium found in green Tea from Japan

The latest information comes from Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety. The sample of powdered green tea came from the Japanese prefecture of Chiba, southeast of Tokyo. The sample contained small amounts of cesium 137 and was below the legal maximum limit. The importer of the tea sampled in Hong Kong voluntarily withdrew it from the market.

This is not the first time the center for Food Safety has found radioactive cesium in food products from Japan. In March 2011, three samples of vegetables from Japan had “unsatisfactory” levels of radioactive contamination. Additionally, Hong Kong says that from time-to-time Japanese food has shown up with low levels of radiation contamination.

According to Reuters in Dec. 2014, the “state secrets law” that the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe passed in 2013, went into effect on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Thousands were out in the streets of Tokyo protesting the strict law that allows the government to conceal governmental misdeeds and limit press freedom.

Despite the governmental blackout on information of a ‘sensitive” nature, we do know that 300 tons of radioactive water is still flowing into the Pacific Ocean every day, and we do know that mistakes at the crippled nuclear plant have been covered up.

We know Abe has been pushing people to move back to the Fukushima region, even though many one-time residents are afraid to return, and despite the rising number of thyroid cancer cases in children. In late 2013, radioactive cesium 137 “hot-spots” were being found as far away as in Miyagi Prefecture, 70 km (43 miles) north of Fukushima. It is also reported that contractors have been dumping radioactive debris into Japan’s rivers.

Some of the radioisotopes, cesium 137 and cesium 134, were found in 15 juvenile bluefin tuna caught off the California coast in August 2011, four months after the Fukushima disaster. It is well known that bluefin tuna spawn in the western Pacific, off the coasts of Japan and the Philippines. The juveniles, caught off the coast of San Diego, Calif. were thought to have migrated from the coast of Japan. But again, the radioactive levels were minute.

The reason why so many people are still concerned over finding even small amounts of radioactive cesium in seafood taken from the Pacific Ocean and other foods from Japan is that we really don’t know for sure what’s going on. We do know the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) stopped testing Pacific fish for radiation. But people still wonder why we were never given a good explanation for the FDA’s actions.

And now, with it being difficult to get any information out of Japan about what’s happening at the Fukushima power plant, we know even less than we did two years ago. Many people are suggesting the huge number of die-offs of seabirds, marine organisms and marine mammals on the North American Pacific coasts may be due to the radiation from Fukushima, instead of being the result of global warming. None of us knows for sure, and it is doubtful if we ever will know.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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