Do nuclear incidents give nuclear plant birds, butterflies a boost?

Written by By Staff Writer

This story was originally published in March of this year.

Despite the contaminated air and water stemming from Japan’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, wildlife appears to be thriving around Fukushima, on its northern coast.

The Fukushima Zoological Gardens’ latest study suggests that swarms of insects are making up more than 50% of the local ecosystem there, while populations of butterflies, beetles and corals are also reported to be robust.

Their findings, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science , suggest that “some parts of the plant and animal communities of Fukushima are recovering, despite widespread damage from the nuclear accidents,” according to a news release.

This contrasts with official estimates from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that found just six species of plants and 11 species of animals had become extinct due to the devastation caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Tourism to the area and plantings of seaweed are also said to be encouraging population increases.

However, the zoo’s conservationists have warned that areas where parts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and other surrounding industries have melted down are “not yet safe for wildlife.”

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