EU TO RELAX REGULATIONS ON JAPANESE FOOD IMPORTS
The European Union is preparing to relax regulations on Japanese food imports, except for products from nuclear disaster hit Fukushima Prefecture.
The EU requires radiation checks on food products from Tokyo and 9 other prefectures, mostly in northern Japan. The procedures were implemented following the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Officials at the European Commission, the EU executive body, said on Friday that from April it will no longer require inspections on food products made in Tokyo and adjacent Kanagawa Prefecture.
They also said no inspection will be needed for vegetables and livestock products from places other than Fukushima.
But the EU will newly require checks on mushrooms and bamboo shoots produced in Akita and Yamagata Prefectures.
The new rules are expected to take effect on April 1st after being approved by the commission.
Feb. 21, 2014 - Updated 20:47 UTC
MEASURES FAIL TO STOP FUKUSHIMA PLANT LEAKS
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been coming up with countermeasures to deal with repeated leaks from tanks of contaminated water.
But despite the measures, 100 tons of radioactive water leaked on Wednesday and Thursday.
Last August, more than 300 tons of highly radioactive wastewater leaked from one of the plant's storage tanks.
The estimated volume of the leaked radioactive materials caused Japan's nuclear regulator to rank the leak a level-3 serious accident. The international scale of nuclear and radiological events ranges from zero to 7.
In October, another leak of highly contaminated water occurred, this time from a different tank on the site.
Tokyo Electric Power Company said the leak resulted from overfilling the tank.
In the wake of repeated leaks, the utility installed water-level gauges in the tanks and alarms to prevent overfilling. It also stepped up patrols of the compound so abnormalities could be detected as soon as possible.
This time the water again overflowed out of a tank and leaked outside the barrier around the tank, running along a rainwater pipe.
But workers first determined that the alarm and information from the gauges were malfunctions, as they found no abnormalities around the tank, at least when the alarm went off.
The utility says they will seek additional measures to address these new problems.
Feb. 21, 2014 - Updated 03:55 UTC
FISHERMEN WORRIED ABOUT FUKUSHIMA LEAK
Fishermen in northeastern Japan have voiced strong concerns about a new leak of highly radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The head of a fishermen's group in Fukushima Prefecture, Masakazu Yabuki, said on Thursday the leak of 100 tons was not small and could cause anxiety about the safety of local fish among consumers nationwide.
He added that local fisheries groups have started test-catches of marine products.
Another group's chief, Hiroyuki Sato, said on Thursday that if the leak was caused by human error, it should never have happened.
Sato said that if the situation continues, it will add to fishermen's distrust in the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company.
He said that could also hinder the utility's plan to release groundwater into the sea before it gets tainted with radioactive substances.
Feb. 20, 2014 - Updated 09:58 UTC
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