TOKYO, April 10 (UPI) -- Radioactive contamination in mushrooms grown 180 miles from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has raised calls for compensation, officials said.
After the discovery April 5, authorities in Kanagawa prefecture told farmers and agricultural produce distributors not to ship the shiitake mushrooms, a delicacy prized in East Asian countries,.
The discovery comes as residents of areas surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, have begun presenting compensation demands to the nuclear plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Residents of one village located six miles from the plant, who were forced to abandon their farms, schools and homes, filed a lawsuit against TEPCO in February.
"The lawsuit is the only thing we have to give us some meaning to our lives after we lost our homes, livelihoods, community and the trust we had for the authorities," Susumi Yamasawa, who heads a local citizen group in Odaka village, told Inter Press Service.
"The hardest is seeing our close-knit community disintegrate," he said. "Youth and children have left the area to avoid the radiation risk. The future is bleak."
Officials said last month TEPCO might have to pay out billions in compensation for business and financial losses from the nuclear accident.