Radioactive Blueberries Siezed In
Moscow - Chernobyl's Legacy

By Todd Brendan Fahey

Some 200 kilograms of radioactive blueberries were seized in Moscow markets last week in an effort to stop the annual influx of fruit infected by the legacy of the Chernobyl disaster, health officials said Friday.
The radioactive chernika came from Ukraine and Belarus, the areas worst hit by the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, as well as a number of western Russian regions, said Yelena Ter-Martosova, spokeswoman for Radon, the city's nuclear safety watchdog. The blueberries tested for highly radioactive cesium-137 at 10 Moscow markets -- including Leningradsky, Rizhsky and Danilovsky -- and one market in the Moscow region.
Ter-Martosova said all of the berries were seized before they went on sale, as all official markets have to test food before it is sold. The danger, she said, is buying from unofficial dealers who are not subject to this kind of control. She advised buyers to avoid purchasing food from market stalls on the street, in metro underpasses and in unofficial markets.
The 200 kilograms of berries were seized from June 24-27. Since June 18, 669 kilograms of radioactive blueberries have been seized and destroyed.
Radioactive cesium can accumulate in body cells and cause mutations leading to various diseases, including cancer.
The maximum amount of cesium that is considered safe in blueberries is 40 becquerel per kilogram.
Radioactive fruit was also found at the Kuntsevsky, Koptevsky, Preobrazhensky, Babushkinsky, Lianozovsky and Moskvaretsky markets.


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