The troubled Fukushima nuclear plant is experiencing something of a revival as wild animals and plants have returned to the area, scientists say.
According to a team of researchers at Fukushima University, farmed water that once poisoned natural habitats at the site has been replaced by pure, uncontaminated rainfall from the sea that has flooded the reactors.
While last year, the fish stocks around the damaged plant could only be eaten by a special breed of Japanese pike – a protected species – over the past six months it has become possible to do so with any species in the kelp forest that borders the facility’s farms.
“In the site’s ecosystem, the danger from rice bran saturated with strontium or radioactive particles has been mitigated because its material can no longer enter the bodies of the natural organisms in the area,” says professor Gunahiro Matsuda. “The water that was once such a problem can now be used for human and other purposes because it is clean. The return of wild species to the site suggests the situation is finally back to normal.”
The findings, published in the Japanese university’s science journal Prenatal and Preventive Medicine, have drawn widespread interest. “This research shows the resilience of Japanese nature and the impact of the plant on this area,” said Tokyo University’s Professor Satoru Kojima. “It would have been impossible to predict the immediate result after the disaster so it is very impressive to see wild animals returning on their own. This shows the resilience of a particular ecosystem.”
Ginna, a small Pacific longnose sturgeon and certain other species from other parts of the Pacific, including California and Mexico, were also able to move back to the Fukushima sites, according to the report.