Georgia can learn lessons from Fukushima disaster via Just Atlanta News

By Daniel R. Ferreira

Georgia has two nuclear power plants with another under construction today. Together, the current plants produce about 20 percent of the electricity used in the state.
Whether you are pro- or anti-nuclear power, the truth is that nuclear power matters and all such plants carry with them the inherent risk of a radioactive release.
So why would a Kennesaw State University environmental science professor concern himself with nuclear energy? The answer is right beneath your feet.
As a soil chemist, I have a keen interest in what happens to the soil after a nuclear power plant melts down. Today, Japan is the one facing a crisis, but who knows where the next Fukushima Daiichi style accident might occur? Cleaning up the mess after such a disaster is not a simple undertaking by any stretch of the imagination.
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, the radioactive cesium that was released settled out of the atmosphere and was subsequently deposited over an area that may be as large as 15,000 square miles.
The Japanese government is funding many research projects seeking to find a method capable of removing the radioactive cesium from the soil so that it can be safely disposed. Yet, almost five years later, no one has stepped forward with a way to clean up the radioactive soil.

However, my Kennesaw State colleagues, ecosystem ecologist Dr. Matt Weand and animal physiological ecologist Dr. Mark Sugalski, and I have an idea for a new method to treat the cesium-contaminated soil in Japan that we believe will work.
Right now, we are in the process of creating soil to mimic the characteristics of the environment around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Our next step will be to experiment with growing certain types of plants in the soil.
Some plants are known to be able to tap into mineral reserves for nutrients when the levels of these nutrients become too low in the soil. We believe that these plants can be tricked into using their abilities to extract cesium from the clay minerals in Japanese soils.
According to a colleague at the University of Tokyo, no one in Japan has explored this particular avenue of research. The idea is promising and novel, and I believe it is worth exploring.

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