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(Reuters) - Sparks from burning strips of paper swirled into the hot summer sky, carrying the names of the dead above a temple in Fukushima where thousands of sunflowers have been planted to help fight the omnipresent radiation
Sunflowers were used near Chernobyl after the 1986 nuclear accident there to extract radioactive cesium from contaminated ponds nearby. Japanese scientists are also carrying out tests to prove their usefulness in fighting radiation.
Sunflowers have shown to be selective in absorbing metal," Ensley says. "They were able to absorb heavy metals while leaving others － such as iron －behind. This increased their ability to quickly absorb the radionuclides. And, once they have absorbed the radionuclides,the sunflowers are then stabilized, ashed or vitrified and the resulting radioactive waste is stored in a disposal facility."
Overall, phytoremediation has great potential for cleaning up toxic metals, pesticides, solvents, gasoline, and explosives. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more than 30,000 sites in the United States alone require hazardous waste treatment. Restoring these areas and their soil, as well as disposing of the wastes, are costly projects, but the costs are expected to be reduced drastically if plants provide the phytoremediation results everyone is hoping for.
To prevent further spread of these toxins, it was determined that livestock should be allowed to feed only on uncontaminated plants and on plants not tending to accumulate toxic metals within their tissues. Then a soil cleanup method was employed using green plants to remove toxins from the soil. This technique is phytoremediation, a term coined by Dr. Ilya Raskin of Rutgers University's Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, who was a member of the original task force sent by the IAEA to examine food safety at the Chernobyl site. Phytoremediation is a process that takes advantage of the fact that green plants can extract and concentrate certain elements within their ecosystem. For example, some plants can grow in metal-laden soils, extract certain metals through their root systems, and accumulate them in their tissues without being damaged. In this way, pollutants are either removed from the soil and groundwater or rendered harmless.
Originally posted by ararisq
Chernobyl is still unlivable as well.