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Sunflowers to clean up radioactive soil  The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japanese researchers who study space agriculture believe growing sunflowers will remove radioactive cesium from contaminated soil around the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, and are planning a project to plant as many of the yellow flowers as possible this year. They have invited people to sow sunflower seeds near the Fukushima Prefecture power station, hoping the sunflower will become a symbol of recovery in the areas affected by the nuclear crisis. After the sunflowers are harvested, they will be decomposed with bacteria, according to a plan by a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency group led by Prof. Masamichi Yamashita.

After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, sunflowers and rape blossoms were used to decontaminate soil in Ukraine. Radioactive cesium is similar to kalium, a commonly used fertilizer. If kalium is not present, sunflowers will absorb cesium instead.

If the harvested sunflowers are disposed of by burning them, radioactive cesium could be dispersed through smoke, which is why the researchers are considering using hyperthermophilic aerobic bacteria--used to produce compost--to decompose the plants. The decomposing process will reduce the sunflowers to about 1 percent of their previous volume, which will slash the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be dealt with.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 22nd, 2011 at 11:08:47 PM EST
ARGeezer:
They have invited people to sow sunflower seeds near the Fukushima Prefecture power station

Huh? In the (growing) exclusion zone?

The media will run with any story. Gah.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 23rd, 2011 at 01:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if the sunflowers are a good accumulator of radioactive elements I would think it a very good idea to plant them throughout school grounds not covered with cement or asphalt anywhere on Honshu north of Tokyo. Having children doing the planting -- not so much.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 23rd, 2011 at 11:15:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there's a sufficient amount of caesium in school grounds to cause concern, the schools should be closed. Then (the authorities) can perhaps find out "if" composting sunflowers and carting the result away is a solution.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 24th, 2011 at 03:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there's a sufficient amount of caesium in school grounds to cause concern, the schools should be closed.

The Japanese press demands your resignation as Prime Ministerial advisor. </snark>

Economics is politics by other means

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 24th, 2011 at 01:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ny medical problems won't show up till way after the current raft of politicians are in their graves, so it isn't a problem

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 24th, 2011 at 01:23:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, thyroid cancer and other tumours in adolescents would be likely to manifest within the next 20 years. Of course, any link will be denied.

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 24th, 2011 at 03:15:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even with cesium levels well below the mandatory evacuaton level it would seem prudent to sop up any that could be removed by simple biological means from around schools, especially. Ideally, playgrounds should be brought back close to status quo ante.

As Mig and I have noted in previous comments, the truth about the extent and duration of radiation dangers is unpalatable to the Japanese public just now, especially to those who may never be able to return to their land and homes. That makes mitigation at schools all the more urgent.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 24th, 2011 at 01:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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