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Cows tested for radiation in Fukushima 'difficult-to-return' zones

Veterinarians perform blood tests and other examinations on cows in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 6, 2015, in order to determine their levels of radiation exposure. (Mainichi)

FUKUSHIMA -- In an effort to determine the radiation exposure levels of cows living in "difficult-to-return" zones along coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, a local organization carried out a health survey of the animals on Dec. 6. via methods including blood sampling.

    The testing was performed by the Society for Animal Refugee & Environment post-Nuclear Disaster, which is comprised of veterinary researchers from Iwate University and Kitasato University, along with local cattle farmers.

    The organization has been voluntarily spearheading investigations since September 2012 into the impact of radiation exposure among cows living in evacuation zones.

    At the farm of Mitsuhide Ikeda, 54, who has around 50 cows in the town of Okuma, the veterinarians soothed the cows by calling out "It's alright, it's alright," as they steadied the animals in the fenced-in enclosure. They then carried out the testing procedures, which focused primarily upon drawing the animals' blood.

    After the blood samples are taken back to the universities, tests will be carried out such as measuring the concentration of radioactive cesium, as well as determining whether or not damage has occurred to the animals' DNA.

    Similar testing was also carried out the previous day on Dec. 5 in the prefectural town of Namie. Over the course of the two days, a total of more than 120 cows were examined in both towns.

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