Tokyo: Japanese scientists are studying how radiation has affected plants and animals living near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, an official said today.
Researchers are examining field mice, red pine trees, a
certain type of shellfish and other wild flora and fauna in
and around the 20 kilometre no-go zone surrounding the plant,
an Environment Ministry official said.
"The researchers are studying the impact of high
radiation levels on wild animals and plants, examining the
appearance, reproductive function and possible abnormalities
in chromosomes," said the official.
They will also grow seeds from plant samples and monitor
the offspring of animals in the research.
The study began in November and an initial report on the
findings is expected in March, he said.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, some 220
kilometres north of Tokyo, suffered blasts and fires after the
March 11 quake and tsunami crippled its cooling systems,
releasing radiation into the environment.
Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the area
near the plant, many abandoning pets and livestock which have
since gone feral.
Parts of the exclusion zone are expected to be
reclassified to allow people to move back to their homes over
the next few years, but other areas are expected to be
uninhabitable for several decades.