One more spin doctor well at work: despite biologist Tim Mousseau’s many fieldtrips to study very precisely the Fukushima radiation’s effects on flora and fauna, an unknown radiobiologist Carmel Mothersill comes out on Newsweek to minimize the risks of the well existing radiation effects on location stating that ‘there is a low risk to people and pets

An artwork titled “FUTABA”, a part of the Futaba Art District project is seen on a wall of a shuttered store on August 31, 2022, in Futaba, Fukushima, Japan.

August 31, 2022

Japan’s Fukushima, the site of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster, is showing “unusual growing patterns” among vegetation in the area because of the radiation contamination.

In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant lost power during a tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan’s Pacific coast. This caused systems in three reactors to fail and the cores to overheat. Nuclear material then bored holes in each reactor, causing radiation to leak. This resulted in a series of explosions and a catastrophic nuclear disaster. The event is second only to Chernobyl as the worst nuclear disaster.

Over 300,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, and an exclusion zone had to be created. Slowly, following remediation, areas have opened up again, meaning people can return. Recently, the town of Futaba lifted its evacuation order.

Tim Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina and a radiation expert, told Newsweek that a “vast region near the power plant” is still “significantly contaminated” but that levels are much lower than they used to be. However, the effects of radiation continue to be seen in the plants in the area, he said.

“There have been a few studies of the plants showing effects of the radiation. For example, it has been shown that Japanese fir trees show unusual growth patterns similar to that observed for pine trees in Chernobyl,” Mousseau said. “Such effects are still open for study, as they are preserved in the growth form of the plant/tree as long as it is still living.”

He continued, “Many areas are still contaminated above levels that most would consider safe for people to live, although most of the region is now relatively safe for short visits.”

Carmel Mothersill, a radiobiologist and the Canada research chair in environmental radiobiology, said that remediation efforts have also affected the area’s vegetation.

“The biggest disruption to the environment was the remediation effort where all vegetation was removed and up to a meter of soil was also taken off to clean it up. But the damage to forests and meadows is terrible,” she said.

“The disruptions to everyday life caused by the accident were permanent for many of the residents, and this is unlikely to change soon for the most affected regions of Fukushima,” Mousseau said. “This is not so much because of persistent radiation per se but also because much of the infrastructure was damaged or destroyed and has deteriorated over the past decade.”

Mousseau also said that the ongoing effects of the contamination and “other human disturbances” remain largely unknown, as “research in the region has dropped off dramatically in the past years because of COVID and Japan’s restrictions on visitors from outside the country.”

“Assuming Japan removes travel restrictions, more research will be conducted,” he said.

While some areas are opening back up to the public, most of the Fukushima area remains evacuated, Mothersill said.

“People are nervous and not happy to go back,” she said. But where people are living, radiation levels are very low, ‘meaning there is a low risk to people and pets’.

https://www.newsweek.com/fukushima-plants-unusal-gorwing-patterns-1738525