It’s been four years since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan, yet the fallout can still be felt. Reports of deformed butterflies and fruit have been brought to our attention, but the latest bizarre instance involves mutant flowers. A Twitter user by the name of @san_kaido recently posted an astonishing photo of deformed daisies in Nasushiobara City, 70 miles from Fukushima.
“The right one grew up, split into two stems to have two flowers connected each other, having four stems of flower tied beltlike,” according to Fukushima Diary. “The left one has four stems grew up to be tied to each other and it had the ring-shaped flower. The atmospheric dose is 0.5 μSv/h at 1m above the ground.”
マーガレットの帯化(那須塩原市5/26)② 右は４つの花茎が帯状に繋がったまま成長し，途中で２つに別れて２つの花がつながって咲いた。左は４つの花茎がそのまま成長して繋がって花が咲き輪の様になった。空間線量0.5μSv地点(地上高1m) pic.twitter.com/MinxdFgXBC
— 三悔堂 (@san_kaido) May 27, 2015
Translated into English from Japanese, @san_kaiod’s tweet explains how the flowers growing there have been affected by radiation since the March 2011 meltdown of three of six Fukushima reactors after a destructive tsunami.
The last part of the tweet about “0.5 μSv/h at 1m above the ground,” defines the radiation dose per hour that exists near the site where the above photo was taken. According to Weather.com, it’s categorized as safe for “medium to long term habitation” according to this description of radiation levels.
The Japanese government just recently permitted 7,000 former Fukushima residents to return home after being displaced. It’s uncertain how many of the residents will be there for the long-term. “There are no shops. There are no doctors. I don’t know what to do,” one former resident told local Japanese media.
According to Jeffrey J. Doyle, a professor of plant biology at Cornell University, it is feasible the flower could have mutated from being irradiated. Yet, “this is a pretty common mutation in daisies that I’ve seen sporadically in various places not associated with radioactivity,” Dorle told National Geographic.
Doyle also said chemicals, diseases, hormone imbalances, or random mutations to inherited genes could also be factors in causing this peculiarity. This specific disfigurement has been spotted from Holland to Idaho, in various species of the world’s 20,000 daisy family members.
But he’s not waiving the possibility of Fukushima radiation on the plants. “It wouldn’t surprise me to find mutations of all types, including this one, in places that have higher than average levels of mutagenic agents, such as a radioactive site or toxic waste dump,” Doyle said.
Are all these mutations caused by Fukushima radiation, or are they natural occurances? Do you think people should be allowed to return to such a location?