S. Korea checking farm products for radiation

April 9, 2011 2:01 am 

SEOUL, April 8 — South Korea has started checking local farm products for above-limit radiation levels to alleviate public concerns following the detection of radionuclides in rainwater, a state farm quality control service said Thursday.

The moves came as radioactive particles have been detected in the atmosphere since late last month and in rain that fell on Thursday, the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service said.

Minute traces of iodine-131, cesium-137 and cesium-134 were picked up in rain that fell in the early hours of Thursday on Jeju Island off South Korea's southern coast, although no traces were found in rain that fell after 9 a.m. Experts have said the amount detected posed no threat to the environment or human health.

The National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service said 40 random samples of cabbages, spinach and other vegetables grown in open fields will be tested. It will take around six days to collect and carry out detailed analysis of vegetables, and the results will be made public in the middle of next week.

"If above-limit radiation is picked up, the products will be destroyed and barred from being sold on the market," the quality management service said.

There have been concerns that rainwater could have picked up radionuclides on its way down and contaminated plants, soil and water.

The move follows similar checkups done earlier in the week by Seoul on vegetables along the east coast that is closest to Japan, where an earthquake-damaged power plant has been leaking radiation. The government said none of the 41 samples checked turned up positive for radioactive particles. (PNA/Yonhap) scs/rsm

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