After the explosions at Fukushima Dai-ichi scattered radiation in much of the prefecture, more than 40 countries refused to import food items from Japan, dealing a grievous blow to the famers and fishermen of the prefecture. In addition, many within Japan would also not buy food or fish products from Fukushima and neighbouring prefectures.
To counter this, Fukushima has had very rigorous testing of all foodstuffs in place since autumn 2011. The agricultural centre there tests as many as 200 samples of different foods a day. Also, experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency come every year to check safety standards.
Post-2011 disaster, Fukushima’s food standards are among the most stringent in the world. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the prefecture tested more than nine million samples of local unpolished rice (Fukushima is one of Japans best locations for growing tasty rice). Similarly no meat goes to market without being tested.
Hence the number of countries refusing to import Fukushima food has since fallen to about 20, with Singapore recently joining countries such as the US and Australia in lifting or easing import bans.
Release of radioactive water into the Pacific
Currently, more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site, but the utility has warned that it will run out of tank space by the summer of 2022. Tepco has attempted to remove most radionuclides from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to rid the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
Coastal nuclear plants commonly dump water that contains tritium into the ocean. It occurs in minute amounts in nature. Any decision to dispose of the waste water into the sea would anger local fishermen, who have spent the past eight years rebuilding their industry.