Chinese authorities have detected extremely low levels of radiation from Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant on spinach grown in parts of China, but the amount of contamination posed no health hazard, the government said. The health ministry issued a statement late Wednesday saying tests on the vegetable grown outdoors in Beijing, the northern city of Tianjin and in the central province of Henan had revealed traces of radioactive iodine-131.
Recent rainfall caused radioactive particles in the air to accumulate on the spinach leaves, the ministry said. “It has been proven that washing the spinach with water can effectively remove radioactive materials,” it said. The amount was one to three thousandths of the legal limit stipulated in China’s national radiation safety standard, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee. It is the first report of domestic grown produce being contaminated with radiation since Beijing ordered tests on food and water last month in the wake of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, the China Daily said.
The complex’s reactor cooling systems were knocked out by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Workers have since been struggling with the dangerous task of trying to bring radiation leaks under control. China has detected 10 cases of radioactive contamination among passengers, aircraft, ships and containers arriving from Japan since March 16, quarantine authorities said on Saturday.