Sowing Seeds of Hope at Nuclear Disaster Site

| 7/21/2011 4:49:41 PM


As both gesture and deed, officials in Fukushima, Japan have this summer sowed sunflower seeds at a city plaza. The planting is part of their overall efforts to recover from the epic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant disaster by removing radioactive materials from the soil.

For many people the Sunflower plantings -- and the majestic floral coronas and seeds they promise - bring spirals of hope. Sunflowers, it is said, have the healing capacity to absorb radioactive substances. Having been seriously compromised with toxic nuclear radiation, much of Japan is in need of creative efforts to respond to the call of the land and restore balance. The planting of sunflowers is one positive, proactive step in that direction.

In technical terms, this kind of planting to heal poisoned land is called phytoremediation - the use of plants to absorb pollutants from air, water, and soil.

The Fukushima sunflower project is one of many international efforts at phytoremediation, including an extensive planting at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in the Ukraine. Phytoremediation takes advantage of the fact that green plants can extract and concentrate certain elements within their ecosystem. In this way, pollutants are either removed from the soil and groundwater or rendered harmless.

Many institutes and companies around the world are testing different plants' effectiveness at removing a wide range of contaminants. Overall, phytoremediation has potential for responding creatively -- and gracefully -- to the call of the land by using flowers and other plants to clean up toxic metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives and nuclear radiation.

Nebraska Dave
7/25/2011 4:37:45 PM

Steven, that's a new one on me. I didn't know that sunflowers would counteract radiation. Do the plants neutralize the radiation or absorb it? If the sunflowers absorb the radiation then what is done with the plants? It sure does appear that if left on its own, the earth knows what to do to heal itself. I know these sunflowers were planted but just having a plant that would deal with radiation surprises me. I don't know why but it just did. Maybe there should be a field of sunflowers around every neuclear power plant just in case. Now if we could just find a plant that would suck up flood water we would be in business for this year wouldn't we? Have a great Nebraska Day.

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