Japan struggles with tons of radioactive rice

April 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

TOKYO, April 25 (UPI) -- Japanese officials are struggling with thousands of tons of rice grown on land contaminated by radioactivity after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Most of the rice, 17,000 tons, was harvested in 2011 and some in 2012 in areas near the Fukushima nuclear plant, The Asahi Shimbun reported. The plant was heavily damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and the tsunami that followed.

The government purchased the rice after the harvest of one farm was discovered to be contaminated with cesium. The farm ministry and the Japan Agriculture Group, which have set up a joint association, are now trying to get rid of it.

Some farmers have suggested the rice could be fed to livestock or used as biofuel. But most appears destined for incineration.

Just storing the rice has been difficult because many warehouses do not want to accept it. An association official quoted one warehouse owner as saying storing the rice would subject him to "harmful rumors."

Few incinerators are able to deal with rice. Officials at some incinerators equipped to handle rice grains are also unwilling to take on the job of burning radioactive material.

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