Nuclear disaster in Japan did something strange to trees

(ORDO NEWS) — They haven’t grown in size or become suddenly sentient, but the trees near the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant are definitely behaving strangely, according to a new study published earlier this month in the journal Plants.

Researchers from several universities in Italy and Brazil studied spruces growing near a nuclear power plant that was destroyed in 2011 after a strong earthquake. Scientists have been studying whorls – knots in which leaves, branches or other parts of a plant grow from a central point – and found that firs growing near Fukushima show strange growth patterns.

“These conifers showed irregular branching along the main axis of the whorls,” according to a study seen by Newsweek. “The frequency of these anomalies corresponded to the dose rate of radiation in the environment in the observed areas.”

The more radiation, in other words, the more strange the trees became.

Interestingly enough, trees affected by nuclear radiation grow in bizarre shapes and are still affected by material found in the soil near Fukushima. But an even more important goal for the team is to learn how to better care for people caught in similar future disasters and create more effective emergency management plans.

“Ten years have passed since the accident at the nuclear power plant, and large-scale consequences are still visible,” the researchers concluded. “Learning about past incidents and applying that knowledge can make a big difference in terms of lives and healthcare management costs.”

We may not always be good at managing our environment, but nature seems happy to provide humankind with cautionary tales from which to learn.


Contact us: [email protected]

Our Standards, Terms of Use: Standard Terms And Conditions.