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Sunflowers Fail in Nuclear Decontamination; Japanese Public Rejecting Nuclear Energy

Sunflowers Fail in Nuclear Decontamination; Japanese Public Rejecting Nuclear Energy


An experiment to test the power of sunflowers to absorb toxic radiation has failed to prove effective near the site of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan.  The Asahi Shimbun reports that the sunflowers removed only .05 percent of the radioactive cesium in the ground, while the  removal of just over an inch (3 centimeters) of topsoil along with grass removed up to 97 percent of the radioactive cesium. It was hoped that sunflowers would concentrate radioactive waste and could then be removed more easily than the wholesale “scraping” of soil and compost that it seems will  be required.

In the meantime scientists are studying ways to decontaminate the forests near the nuclear accident site. According to the Japan Times, the prefecture (county) where the plant is located is 70% forested, and efforts to date have focused on decontaminating urban areas. Removing the contaminated soil and other material from the forest requires such extreme removal methods that the forest’s ecosystem will be seriously damaged.

Whether the radiation is removed by scraping soil or removing plant matter, the radioactive waste still needs to be safely stored. The government has not yet selected a permanent storage site for the tons of soil and debris that needs to be sequestered.

Anti-Nuclear Protests Hit Tokyo

The Japanese public’s trust in nuclear power is clearly ebbing, as tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets of Tokyo today (Monday) to protest nuclear power. Police estimated the crowd at 20,000 (while organizers claimed more) as protesters carried signs saying “Sayonara Nuclear Power” to urge the government to eliminate nuclear power from the nation’s energy grid.  Nuclear accounted for 30 percent of Japan’s energy use prior to the Fukushima incident. There have been energy shortages as 30 of the country’s 54 reactors have been taken off line to enable inspections. Large businesses have been asked to take measures to conserve energy, such as adjusting thermostats, varying schedules around peak demand and cutting back on overtime.

It has been six months since three of the Fukushima nuclear plant’s six reactors experienced meltdowns following a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Surrounding air, soil and water was contaminated and 100,000 residents were forced to evacuate.


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Photo: Nate Grigg Creative Commons license via Flickr

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4:02PM PDT on May 28, 2012

Puhlease, I live here and know that Japanese are not coming out in droves to prtest nuke power. it is a very small minority.

7:03AM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

I reject nuclear power, and I was not hit by the nuclear disaster in Japan. Too bad that Japanese waited for such a disaster to take them out on the streets saying NO to nuclear power. Too bad that people are waiting for disasters to hit them before realizing the global wrongs that they are doing.

6:08PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

Of course the public won't be able to accept nuclear power after such a disaster. I don't even know how they let that happen in the first place. And because of this mistake, it has doomed us all. We can't escape from the radiation on such a small planet. Tchernobyl is still affecting us even today...

3:47PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

May we learn from our mistakes before our mistakes kill us and everything else in it's wake.

8:00AM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

All they have to do is send the nuclear waste on a rocket into the heart of the sun...problem solved.

4:06AM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Beverly, not sure how old you are, but honestly, your grammar and use of language is a bit offending........" thems crackers"?

11:03PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Being in Japan's position I would be willing to try ideas too.

I know it is vitally important to try and clean up the mess ASAP, but I would like to know if the animals of all species are likewise being taken care of?

With volcanic terrain Japan would have massive thermal deposits on hand.
Please urge your country to set up this as alternate energy coupled with tidal generators.....
More power than you need at a much cheaper cost to your fellow countrymen and your enviroment. Naturally safer to the rest of our planet too.
PLEASE, please listen to your people, they have had enough to contend with already.

8:43PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Do away with it!! Better to find another solution to the energy problem.

7:20PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011


7:03PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Whether we like it or not we will be stuck with nuclear waste for way longer that any of us can imagine. Like most man made things the effects of nuclear energy is ill conceived and not well thought out and we continue to produce it. There is no need when we have so many other options and I wish the scientists would concentrate on those that have the least impact on us and our environment.

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