Anxiety grows over Japan’s food and water supply

At a downtown grocery store, a line of anxious mothers cleaned the shelves of bottled water seven minutes after the doors opened. At an organic farm on the city’s outskirts, a group tested spinach with a hand-held radiation detector. And at the prime minister’s headquarters, the chief cabinet secretary announced that Japan is considering importing drinking water.

As emergency crews battled Thursday to contain nuclear fallout from the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant in northeast Japan, a nervous uncertainty spread as far away as Tokyo, 150 miles to the southwest, as radiation was reported in parts of the food chain and millions tried to understand the implications.

In Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Thursday that Japanese scientists have found “measurable concentrations” of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137 in samples of seawater collected off the coast from the Fukushima plant.

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