Mutant daisies reportedly grow near Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan
July 23, 2015
Fukushima mutant rabbit
FOUR years after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, weird things have been happening in neighbouring areas. The latest is the mutant daisy.
The images of deformed daisies have emerged on social media after Twitter user @san_kaido posted a photo of the mutated yellow and white flowers last month. They were found in Nasushiobara City, around 110 kilometres from the Fukushima plant, the site of the 2011 nuclear meltdown.
San Kaido posted the images with the following words: “The right one grew up, split into 2 stems to have two flowers connected each other, having four stems of flower tied beltlike,” according to Fukushima Diary.
“The left one has four stems grew up to be tied to each other and it had the ring-shaped flower. The atmospheric dose is 0.5 μSv/h at 1m above the ground.”
Since the nuclear plant meltdown, locals have reportedly spotted other deformed vegetables and fruit which also appeared to be affected by the high radiation levels found in the groundwater near the plant. A rabbit that was born without ears was also discovered in the radiation zone.
The deformed animals and plants come as thousands of men are working in Japan’s muggy early summer in a vast effort to scrub radiation from the villages around Fukushima.
Greenpeace researchers … checking radiation levels at the Ganbe Dam lakeside in the village of Iitate in the Fukushima prefecture. Japan’s government did not order its evacuation until more than a month after the nuclear accident began. Source: AFP
The mission is to decontaminate hundreds of square kilometres that were polluted when reactors went into meltdown after a huge tsunami struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011.
No stone is left unturned: diggers scrape away the top layer of earth in fields, school courtyards and around the buildings of villages, while houses, buildings, roads and parking lots are scrubbed clean.
At least 20,000 people — all dressed in the special gloves, masks and boots required for workers in the nuclear industry — are involved in the clean-up, according to the environment ministry.
Some 2.5 million black bags filled with contaminated soil, plants and leaves wait at the sites or in one of the nearly 800 temporary outdoor storage facilities that have been set up across the disaster zone.
On the ground … Greenpeace researcher Jan Vande Putte collecting earth samples at the Ganbe Dam lakeside in the village of Iitate in the Fukushima prefecture. Source: AFP
The mammoth effort comes as Japan’s government prepares to declare sections of the evacuation zone habitable again.
That will mean evacuees can return to the homes they abandoned more than four years ago. It will also mean, say campaigners, that some people will have no choice but to go back because it will trigger the ending of some compensation payments.
Government-run decontamination efforts are under way in 11 cities where Tokyo says that at present, anyone living there would be exposed to radiation levels of more than 20 millisieverts (mSv) a year.
Ghost town … a store damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami still untouched in the village of Tomioka north of Naraha in the Fukushima prefecture. Activists say many areas still show highly-elevated levels of contamination. Source: AFP
The globally-accepted norm for radiation absorption is 1 mSv per year, although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others say anything up to 20 mSv per year poses no immediate danger to human health.
The settlement of Naraha, which lies just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the plant, is expected to be declared safe in September.
The government intends to lift many evacuation orders by March 2017, if decontamination progresses as it hopes.
Going back … Satoru Yamauchi looking at the abandoned kitchen inside his dust-covered noodle restaurant in Naraha, a tiny town in the Fukushima prefecture, which has been untouched for four years. Source: AFP
Still, the area immediately surrounding the plant remains uninhabitable, and storage sites meant to last 30 years are being built in the villages closest to the complex.
For now, only residential areas are being cleaned in the short-term, and the worst-hit parts of the countryside are being omitted, a recommendation made by the IAEA.
But that strategy has troubled environmentalists, who fear that could lead to re-contamination as woodlands will act as a radiation reservoir, with pollutants washed out by rains.
In a report on decontamination in Iitate, a heavily forested area that lies northwest of the plant, campaign group Greenpeace says these selective efforts will effectively confine returnees to a relatively small area of their old hometowns.
Left behind … a vehicle and houses damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami still untouched after four years, in the village of Tomioka north of Naraha in the Fukushima prefecture. Source: AFP
“The Japanese government plans, if implemented, will create an open-air prison of confinement to ‘cleaned’ houses and roads… and the vast untouched radioactive forests continue to pose a significant risk of recontamination of these ‘decontaminated’ areas to even higher levels,” the report, published Tuesday, says.
Some 39 other municipalities which were not evacuated after the accident, and which have radiation levels deemed safe for humans, are also being decontaminated by local authorities.