Wildlife is thriving around Fukushima

More than four years after a huge nuclear disaster, animals are making a comeback Wildlife is thriving around Fukushima Wildlife is starting to return to areas of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that were…

Wildlife is thriving around Fukushima

More than four years after a huge nuclear disaster, animals are making a comeback

Wildlife is thriving around Fukushima

Wildlife is starting to return to areas of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that were badly damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, according to scientists.

While not all animals have returned, plants and insects have flourished in many of the areas that were unusable after the accident.

Three of the six reactors at the plant were shut down after a tsunami hit the area on 11 March 2011. That was followed by the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Most of the plants are shut down and workers are returning to areas of the plant where radiation leaks were greatest and are checking the animals for contamination.

A drone by Fukushima zoo that has made daily visits to check animal habitats. Photograph: Jiro Itsuno/Jiro Itsuno

The restoration of the environment is expected to take many decades. A separate effort is to return the fish population to pre-accident levels.

The government estimates that as many as 100 species of animals, including tuna, crabs and clams have returned, although scientists dispute those numbers. The blooming of flora and fauna has revealed a significant number of water fowl, including ducks, geese and pigeons, as well as a number of other bird species.

Birds found in natural flood plains of Fukushima harbour. Photograph: Jiro Itsuno/Jiro Itsuno

Some birds, including geese and ducks, have been drawn to the area after oil leaks were removed from the region. Biologists say that it will take many years for bird species to fully recover.

The Japanese Nature Conservation Service, a pro-reconstruction group, has been undertaking yearly surveys on numerous parts of the plant, taking two-metre (6ft) wide film cameras to remote areas and capturing 400 images in each visit.

Monitoring of fish stocks and seafood exports could help Japan find alternative food sources as production techniques at Fukushima’s former nuclear power plant start to decline. The government has set a goal of reviving fish exports in 2026, after the figure fell by 80% between 2012 and 2015 due to damage from the tsunami.

Biologists say the response to food shortages has been positive in the areas where rice and fish are most important to the local economy.

Other wildlife was also spotted during the Japan Sea bug survey: moose and eagles, for example. A report on the results, published in science journal Scientific Reports, said the survey was completed from January 2015 to June 2016.

Reuters contributed to this report

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