When the tsunami hit the Fukashima nuclear plant in 2011 and caused major equipment failure, the meltdown of the plant was the big news of the day. People from all around the world looked towards the country with compassion and world leaders did what they could to help deal with what might follow. Of course, no one could have predicted this humorous turn. Seeing Science Alert releasing an article about thousands of radioactive boar tearing through the city, your first inclination might actually be to think you are looking at a post by the Onion. Unfortunately, sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction and the reality of those living near Fukashima is anything but funny.
In the aftermath of the nuclear meltdown, the local plant and animal life is highly irradiated from the fallout. While the initial radiation may have been devastating, the aftermath is a bit of a different story. Some of the local boar population, which was previously hunted as a popular meat within Japan, survived the initial meltdown and without hunters to keep the population down, have quickly begun to expand. In fact, the population have gone from 3,000 to over 13,000 in the five years since the incident and slowing down this growth could be a problem. Oh, and since they continue to take in radiation, the unsafe levels won’t soon come to an end in these boar populations.
With the expanding population, irradiated pigs are venturing outside of their comfy homes within the dead zone and are beginning to intrude on the land of nearby farmers. While these farmers are already trying to deal with water issues, they aren’t really equipped to handle the invasion. After all, if they kill them they have to figure out a way to dispose of the bodies without spreading the radiation, and that isn’t as easy as one might hope.
Though they can no longer hunt these boar for meat, some of the locals are still working to keep the population in check by hunting as many of these wild pigs as possible. Unfortunately, the areas designated for the radioactive corpses are quite limited, which means the amount of pigs they can kill will not really put a dent in the growing population. Of course, you likely are thinking “why not just burn the corpses?” This might sound great on paper, but with the radiation factor, it is not safe unless done in a proper facility. There does happen to be a facility somewhat close by, but they only have the space and resources to burn about 1,100 each year (assuming they operate around the clock). In other words, the population could continue to expand faster than they could be disposed of.
While the headline might be humorous, the reality is locals still being affected by the fallout of the incident, see it as anything but. Unfortunately, situations like this show everyone around the world just how much science still has to learn and really leaves you wondering how much influence humanity has on the world around us. Hopefully, some bright mind will come up with a more practical solution, but in the meantime the local crops continue to suffer and residents nearby the dead zone of Fukashima are left with little hope.