FUKUSHIMA – The municipal government of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, has started planting rice and vegetables to test how much radioactive materials they will absorb from the stricken nuclear plant in its midst.
The entire town, which hosts four of the Fukushima No. 1 plant’s six reactors, has been designated as a no-go zone since the March 2011 natural calamities caused three of the units to suffer meltdowns.
A team of workers in white protective gear planted rice, carrots, spinach and other vegetables in an area about 6 km southwest of the crippled nuclear plant Tuesday.
Another group planted exactly the same rice seedlings and vegetables in an adjacent plot that has had 5 cm of its surface soil removed as part of decontamination work.
The municipal government will monitor the plants in the two plots to determine how effective decontamination efforts have been.
“We’d like to collect data to grow agricultural products again in this town some day, although we don’t know how long we will have to wait for that,” a municipal official said.