JAPAN | Fukushima city sows sunflower seeds to decontaminate ‘hot spot’

Posted on July 20, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 20 July 2011

Workers measure the ground near a rain water outlet in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 12. (Mainichi)

FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — Fukushima city officials sowed sunflower seeds Wednesday at a plaza in the city as part of efforts to remove radioactive materials from the soil.

Sunflowers are said to absorb radioactive substances, and the 6,000-square-meter plaza, located on a hillside about 1 kilometer away from the prefectural government offices, is one of the so-called “hot spots” where radiation levels are sporadically higher than other areas.

The plaza used to be open for local residents but its use has been restricted as it is difficult to remove radioactive-contaminated surface soil as heavy machines cannot be deployed there.

Radiation levels of up to 4.43 microsieverts per hour were measured 1 meter above the surface at the plaza in June in the wake of the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, officials said.

About 30 officials of the water works department sowed some 10,000 seeds at the plaza, with masks and gloves on to protect themselves from radioactive substances.

“People gather here every year for cherry blossom viewing in spring,” Yoshiaki Takagi, chief of the department said. “I want to lower the level of radiation so they can come back here.”

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