Title: Fukushima’s Food Fallout: Testing Groceries for Radiation in Japan
Date: March 13, 2012
MILES O’BRIEN: [...] So how long will people in Japan be dealing with this problem? Many farmers here were dismayed to learn crops that did not have any direct contact to the Fukushima fallout were still too tainted to be brought to market.
KATHRYN HIGLEY, Oregon State University: They were a little bit surprised at how much of the cesium translocated from the old leaves into the new growth, particularly in the tea leaves.
MILES O’BRIEN: Radio ecologist Kathy Higley is reading Fukushima tea leaves at Oregon State University. She studies how radionuclides move through the environment.
KATHRYN HIGLEY: When the initial releases occurred, the radionuclide contamination fell to the ground and it contaminated the old, mature plants, the old, mature leaves, if you will. And later on, as the weather warmed up and you started getting new growth, what they found in the tea leaves was that the new growth was also contaminated.
MILES O’BRIEN: Whatever the mechanisms, Toshiyuki Nishiyama is not waiting for the soil to be safe enough for rice. He and some of the others who used to farm here are thinking of building greenhouses to grow vegetables hydroponically.
Wall Street Journal: “From a radiological perspective, we expect the impact to be really, really minor,” said Kathryn Higley, a professor of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University. She was part of the group that spoke Thursday in Washington D.C.
Bio: Higley [...] has held both Reactor Operator and Senior Reactor Operator’s licenses, and is a former Reactor Supervisor for the Reed College TRIGA reactor. She has held research positions at three research reactors including Reed College, Washington State University (Pullman), and Oregon State University. She has fourteen years with Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratories as an environmental health physicist at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and three years experience in environmental radiation monitoring at the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in Oregon. She is a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Air, Water and Radiation Protection.
Published: March 14th, 2012 at 6:29 pm ET