Native Village
Youth and Education news

Volume 3, January 2012

Sunflowers May Heal Fukushima’s Radioactive Soil
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Condensed by Native Village

Japan:  It’s always wise to look to nature for processes that heal the land. Fungi, bacteria and plants have remarkable properties that help clean up the messes we humans create.

People living near Fukushima are being asked to plant and grow sunflowers. The goal: to decontaminate soil that became radioactive after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Shinji Handa has sold thousands of sunflower seed packets to Japanese people. They are being asked to grow the flowers, then send those seeds back for others to plant.

“We will give the seeds sent back by people for free to farmers, the public sector and other groups next year,” said Handa. 

Plants have evolved to live with the toxics and extract them from the soil. The process is called phytoremediation.

Sunflowers were used to suck up radioactive materials after the Chernobyl nuclear accident site in 1994. They were also used to remove uranium from contaminated water near Oak Ridge (TN) National Laboratory in 1996.

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