Govt to check Fukushima pollen

Original story from The Yomiuri Shimbun 24th October 2011

The Forestry Agency will start checking for radioactive substances in cedar pollen in Fukushima Prefecture as early as next month in response to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the agency said.

There is very little data in Japan or elsewhere in the world about pollen from plants grown in areas with high levels of radiation. If high levels of pollen-borne radiation are found, the Environment Ministry plans to release the data at the end of this year together with its forecast of the expected amount of cedar pollen to be dispersed in the air next spring.

The agency plans to pick male cedar flowers in the no-entry zone and check them for radioactive cesium, it said.

“As it will be the first such survey, we honestly don’t know how much we will find. We’d like to obtain objective figures by making an accurate survey,” an official of the agency said.

According to the agency and the Fukushima prefectural government, the prefecture has about 184,500 hectares of national and private cedar forests, accounting for about 20 percent of the total forests in the prefecture.

The agency has yet to decide the size of the areas to be surveyed, it said.

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