SHIZUOKA, Japan, June 14 (Kyodo) — The Shizuoka prefectural government said Tuesday it has asked five tea manufacturing plants in the city of Shizuoka to voluntarily stop shipping green tea leaves and recall those already shipped as they were found to contain radioactive cesium in excess of the legal limit.
The five are among 20 plants in the city's Warashina district inspected by prefectural government experts earlier in the day following the recent finding of the radioactive substance above the limit in tea leaves produced at another plant in the district.
Dried tea leaves made by the five plants from the first crop for this year were found to contain 581 to 654 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, above the legally permitted level of 500 becquerels, the prefectural government said.
No radioactive iodine was found, it noted, adding that tea made from leaves produced by two of the five plants contained cesium well below the legally permitted level for beverages.
While the Warashina district has some 100 tea plants, the prefectural government inspected 20 of them as they account for 85 percent of tea production in the district.
The inspection was conducted amid fears of widespread radiation leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.