Tue, Mar 15, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Radiation levels in Taiwan remain normal

VIGILANCE:The number of probes conducted to monitor radiation levels in food and drinking water will be increased to 20 per day in response to Japan’s nuclear incidents

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter, with CNA

Radiation levels throughout Taiwan have remained normal since a second explosion rocked Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant yesterday, an Atomic Energy Council official said.

Department of Nuclear Regulation director Chen Yi-pin (陳宜彬) said the council had been closely monitoring the levels of radiation and concentrations of radioactive material in Taiwan since several of Japan’s nuclear power plants have experienced complications following a massive earthquake and tsunami on Friday.

“So far, no abnormal radiation levels have been detected in our country,” Chen said, adding that if any abnormal readings were detected, the council would take emergency measures.

Chen said that as long as the reactors’ inner containment vessel holding the nuclear rods were not affected in the explosion, the situation would be controllable and the radiation leak would not be too significant.

While some in Taiwan were concerned that radioactive dust could be blown to Taiwan, Hsu Ming-te (徐明德), deputy director of the council’s Department of Nuclear Regulation, said the wind in Fukushima was blowing eastward. That makes the chance of radioactive dust sweeping into Taiwan very low, he said.

Atomic Energy Council Deputy Minister Shieh Der-jhy (謝得志) reiterated that people in Taiwan should not take iodine tablets, which can be used to prevent iodine-131 from entering the thyroid.

The unnecessary consumption of iodine tablets could cause adverse effects in some people, he said.

Meanwhile, as concerns about radiation-contaminated produce from areas in and surrounding Fukushima Prefecture have risen since the nuclear power plant malfunctions, the council yesterday said it would increase the frequency of sampling and inspections at local food markets to ensure that radiation-contaminated food is not being sold.

Radiation Monitoring Center director Huang -Ching-chung (黃景鐘) said the center’s routine inspection of radiation levels in food and drinking water usually take place every two months, during which 20 items are tested.

In light of the incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the council would now inspect 20 items per day, he said.

Based on the Standards for Limiting Radioactivity in Commodities (商品輻射限量標準), the amount of -iodine-131 in food must be limited to 300Bq/kg. The total amount of cesium-134 and cesium-137 must be limited to 370Bq/kg and iodine-131 in dairy products and baby food must be no higher than 55Bq/kg.

The Department of Health yesterday said it was working with the council to tighten the inspection of agricultural and other food -products imported from Japan for traces of radiation.

Health officials in Taiwan said that a list of products imported from Fukushima and its surrounding areas since March 12, including seafood, livestock and agricultural products, would be under strict inspection for traces of radioactive material.

The health department said that produce currently being sold does not need to be taken off the shelves, as it was imported before the incident.

Shieh added that the council would meet with the Food and Drug Administration and the -director-general of customs to discuss the possibility of increasing the sampling of food imported from Japan.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHELLEY HUANG



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