Farm readings in Hanawa near Shirakawa

Junko Kajino and I made our way from Chicago to Fukushima on 5/23 to begin five months of production on our documentary Uncanny Terrain, about organic farmers facing the nuclear crisis.  Along the way we stopped in Tokyo, with Pieter Frankel of Safecast supplied us with an Inspector Geiger counter and instructed us in its use, advising that 100 counts per minute, equivalent to approximately .3 microSieverts per hour, above background level is considered contaminated.

We’re staying on the Yoshida family farm in Hanawa, Shirakawa-gun, 40km outside the evacuation zone.  The Yoshidas have farmed this land for nine generations—200 years.  Hanawa was spared the worst of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear fallout.  April reports from Fukushima Prefecture showed total Cesium-134 and 137 levels of 250 Becquerels from a soil sample taken a mile from the Yoshidas’ farm.

The Yoshidas planted their spring vegetables as normal, plus sunflowers and canola flowers that they hope will reduce soil contamination.  They have not removed top soil.  Hiroaki Yoshida said he felt mountain runoff would simply recontaminate the soil at the original level.  They own several small rice paddies. In April they planted the seedlings in soil that they’d kept in storage from last year.  They didn’t plant the seedlings in the paddies until late May when the government lifted its prohibition.

Our readings on 5/28 were as follows:

Lower garden 92 and 98 CPM

Onions 72 CPM

Arugula 168 CPM

Strawberries 150 CPM

Garden puddle 92 CPM

Drainage ditch by lower garden 382 CPM

Upper garden 82 CPM

Log under tree 100 CPM

Uncovered log 394 CPM

Flat tree stump 560 CPM

Front yard concrete 212 CPM


Our readings on 5/30 were:

Veranda window before cleaning with wet cloth 52 CPM

Veranda window after cleaning 50 CPM

Veranda treated wood floor before cleaning 132 CPM

Veranded floor after cleaning 82 CPM

Veranda metal railing 72 CPM

Rice paddy 88 CPM

Rice paddy aqueduct 426 CPM

Ground by aqueduct 98 CPM

Greenhouse rice planter frame (plastic-covered wood) 100 CPM


Our readings on 6/1 were:

Rice paddy mud 68 CPM

Rice paddy mud partly sheltered by ridge 56 CPM

Rice paddy grass 117 CPM


About the Author

Ed M Koziarski