Livestock Culling Starts Near Fukushima Plant

JAPAN - Livestock and poultry in the no-entry zone within a 20-kilometre radius of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are to be culled.
calendar icon 13 May 2011
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According to Mainichi Times, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, said yesterday (12 May) that this is necessary due to the difficulty in feeding them.

Mr Edano, the top government spokesman, told a news conference that farmers can no longer continue to feed their livestock after the government designated the area as a no-go zone for safety reasons amid continued fears of radiation leaks from the plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

Before the devastating earthquake and tsunami on 11 March that crippled the nuclear power plant, there were about 3,400 cows, 31,500 pigs and some 630,000 chickens in the area, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Based on the prefecture's investigation, about 1,300 cows and roughly 200 pigs are still alive, while the chickens are all likely to be dead.

The Fukushima prefectural government has already started killing the livestock on its own, after obtaining the owners' consent, for public health reasons. The local government has limited the killing to only livestock on the verge of death, while all remaining cattle in the 20-km radius will be culled under the central government's plan.

With Prime Minister Naoto Kan's order to Fukushima Prefecture to cull the remaining cattle, the farm ministry's staff will now join the prefectural government in the cull.

The government will use a muscle relaxant to put down the cattle including those who fled from their pens, and farmers will likely not be allowed to witness the culling of their livestock, government officials said.

Since there is no legal stipulation involving slaughtering livestock in the area, farm ministry officials said they will have to continue persuading and gaining consent from local farmers who refuse the cull.

"Since the measure is completely the result of the nuclear accident, farmers are certain to be compensated (by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.)," senior vice farm minister, Nobutaka Tsutsui, told reporters.

Mainichi Times adds that the prospect of farmers returning to their livestock dimmed further after the government upgraded its evacuation measures last month, imposing a no-entry zone prohibiting residents from remaining within the 20-km radius of the plant to enhance control of evacuees, with violators possibly facing detention or fines.

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