Japan's farmers and fishermen's future bleak due to contamination

Posted Mar 29, 2011 by Leo Reyes
Thousands of Japanese farmers and fishermen face bleak and uncertain future after authorities announced soil near the site of the badly-damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power plant has been contaminated with Plutonium
Increased radioactivity at the Daiichi plant near Fukushima appears to be leading to an out-of-contr...
Increased radioactivity at the Daiichi plant near Fukushima appears to be leading to an out-of-control environmental nightmare
Photo courtesy TEPCO
The recent discovery of Plutonium in the soil near the crippled nuclear plant and the high level of radiation found in the sea off the plant, are just two of the problems for some of the 200,000 people who depend on their land for livelihood and the sea as source of income and food for thousands of residents.
According to a news report by Reuters, Plutonium has been found in the soil near the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in northeastern Japan. Likewise high level of radiation has been discovered in the sea off the badly-damaged plant.
Radiation has also been found in vegetables and even in Tokyo tap water, though only briefly, the government said.
The issue strikes much closer to home for the more than 200,000 people who live near the plant, Reuters reports.
"These lands have come from their ancestors, and their affection for it is enormous," said Tomo Honda, 36, a member of the Fukushima Assembly.
"The first step is to actually tell these refugees that they can't go back but people are not facing that reality yet," Honda said.
Evacuation has been carried out for more than 70,000 people in the 12-mile restricted area around the nuclear plant while more than 130,000 living outside the restricted area have been advised to leave.
According to a report, "Plutonium is a heavy element that doesn't readily combine with other elements, so it is less likely to spread than some of the lighter, more volatile radioactive materials detected around the site, such as the radioactive forms of cesium and iodine."
"The relative toxicity of plutonium is much higher than that of iodine or cesium but the chance of people getting a dose of it is much lower," says Robert Henkin, professor emeritus of radiology at Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine. "Plutonium just sits there and is a nasty actor."
When plutonium decays, it emits what is known as an alpha particle, a relatively big particle that carries a lot of energy. When an alpha particle hits body tissue, it can damage the DNA of a cell and lead to a cancer-causing mutation.
Plutonium also breaks down very slowly, so it remains dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.