“We’ve run out of space to store it,” frets a 75-year-old farmer in Date City, Fukushima Prefecture, who tends a herd of some 70 cattle.
His bovines’ digestive systems are remarkably productive, generating two tons of excrement per day. This material, rich in nutrients, is normally recycled by selling it to vegetable growers.
But as the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Aug. 16) reports, on July 22, farmers were ordered to halt sh*tments — sorry, we meant shipments — of the stuff until it could be determined it was free of radioactive cesium and thereby safe to spread.
The Ministry of Agriculture determined on August 1 that the safety level for cesium in cow dung was 400 becquerels per kilogram. It also promised to conduct inspections, but as of mid-August the inspection procedures have yet to be put in place and as a result, farm areas are literally becoming inundated in bullsh*t.
To make matters worse, the “Law regulating domestic animal excrement” requires farmers to store cow pies in specified areas, which means the stuff cannot be dumped in fields behind the barn.
The farmers are shrieking they’re about to run out of space. Fukushima has offered to intervene to take some of the load off the ministry, but so far nothing’s happened and in the meantime the poop is earning a PhD — piled higher and deeper.
“I’m pretty sure the cows’ feed is not contaminated, and that we’re within the margin of safety, but it’s troublesome about how rumors are being circulated that produce from Fukushima isn’t safe,” farmer Shunsuke Kokubu tells the paper.
Farmers have been told that waste exceeding the standard cannot be sold off for fertilizer, since the vegetables would absorb the radioactive cesium. So what to do with the defective defecation? It will be “disposed of.” But when asked what measures will be taken to effect this disposal, a farmer in Nihonmatsu City replied, “Nobody’s decided yet.”
“The national government is still dithering over how to deal with the mess,” he grumbled. And in the meantime, Fukushima farms are filled to overflowing with fetid fertilizer. (K.S.)
Source: “Tsumoru gyufun, noka nayamu,” Nihon Keizai Shimbun (August 16, page 30)