Officials in Fukushima, Japan, are touting a recent “gold medal” award as evidence that their tap water is safe to drink.
Japan Today reports city representatives recently had the area’s tap water tested, attempting to allay concerns that food products emanating from the region around the crippled Fukushima-Daiichi plant are still contaminated with radioactivity.
Samples of bottled tap water taken from the afflicted area reportedly received a “Gold Quality award” from Belgian consumer quality testing company Monde Selection.
The report claims the tap water was collected near the Surikamigawa Dam, about 66 miles from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In the days immediately following the Fukushima, Daiichi, March 11, 2011 nuclear meltdown, government officials in the nation’s capitol of Tokyo, 163 miles away from the plant, warned residents not to give tap water to infants or use it in baby formula due to high levels of radioactive iodine.
“The government has said that, due to the high radiation levels, tap water should not be given to children 1 year old and younger,” CNN reported at the time.
In the aftermath, the Japanese health ministry also instructed residents near the plant to avoid drinking the local tap water.
Other prefectures in Japan suspended shipments of products from Fukushima, as officials also recommended that residents avoid eating leafy vegetables.
At the same time, the US also announced alerts for milk, milk products, vegetables and fruit imported from the regions in and around the nuclear plant.
Despite the frantic response to the crisis, The Japan Times reports that “No radioactive material has been detected in Fukushima’s tap water since April 2011, as in any tap water in the country.”
Last month, the Taiwanese government recalled over 290 food items after it emerged they were illegally imported from one of the five blacklisted Japanese prefectures, from which imports were banned in 2011.
Concerns that the radioactive isotopes released by the meltdown may span the Pacific Ocean were substantiated earlier this month when scientists working off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, detected small amounts of cesium-134 and cesium-137, indicating irradiated water originating from the damaged reactor has reached the eastern North American shoreline.
Run by the commercial International Institute for Quality Selections, Monde Selection awards are requested from a panel of judges, who conduct tests and analyses on products ranging from cosmetics and beer to diet and health products, awarding bronze, silver, gold and “grand gold” medals accordingly.