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Fukushima road sign

Vegetable Farm Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant in the Works

Fukushima road signA Japanese fast-food chain plans to grow food about 60 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Reuters reports.

Yoshinoya Holdings, which sells stewed beef over rice called gyudon, has formed a joint-venture with local farmers to grow onions, cabbage and rice for use in outlets across Japan, according to the news agency.

An earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 caused the nuclear disaster, which forced a 20-km compulsory evacuation zone and contaminated water, vegetables and air.

Just last month South Korea banned all fishery imports from areas of Japan around the Fukushima nuclear plant. Although Japan rejected the need for Korea’s ban, saying the country’s fishery exports are safe for consumption, and the toxic water is confined to a small bay near the plant, a nuclear expert in August told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than officials have stated.

In August, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) admitted that some 300 metric tons of radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site, the BBC reports.

Today, Tepco said another tank holding highly contaminated water overflowed, likely sending the liquid into the Pacific Ocean, Reuters reports.

In September, Japan said it will spend 47 billion yen ($473.05 million) to stop leaks and decontaminate radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, including 32 billion yen for a wall of frozen earth to contain groundwater flows, and 15 billion yen for a water treatment system.

Yoshinoya told Reuters it would ensure the vegetables grown in Shirakawa, to the south-west of the plant, were safe and said the farming venture would “lead to support for reconstruction.”

However, despite Japan’s strict food monitoring, the public’s safety concerns have caused Fukushima produce prices to drop and huge losses for farmers, Reuters reports.

Another US nuclear plant will soon close, bringing the number making such announcements this year to five — an all-time high.

Entergy announced in August it would close the 41-year-old Vermont Yankee plant next year, citing low natural gas prices, high operating costs as well as “artificially low” power prices.

The latest closure announcement follows similar news from Southern California Edison and Dominion.

And Brazil has said it will likely back off of its plans to build four new nuclear plants by 2030, and replace some of that capacity with wind power. The changes are due to public fears following the Fukushima nuclear accident, according to the chief of Brazil’s energy planning agency.

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