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Fukushima Scams
By Yoichi Shimatsu
Dear Jeff... 
If your readers wonder why I haven't gone into detail about natural methods of decontamination of soil and water or herbal health protection against irradiation, it is due to my qualms about the many scamsters who would exploit people's fears using legitimate solutions as a type of get-rich-quick quackery.
For example, the following AFP story on one such obvious scam, charging 500 yen (about 6 usd) for a packet of sunflower seeds, when one can buy a pack of seeds retail for 150 yen in any garden shop in Japan.
This blathering idiot has no idea of how to properly dispose of millions of resulting irradiated sunflower stems. Nor does he understand the physical risks and hard labor required for bio-decontamination.
Any phyto-remediation program requires prior research, experience (for example, in Chernobyl or Semipalatinsk) and guidelines for health precautions in high-dosage areas.
In any disaster, there are vampires and hucksters who are eager to take advantage of people's misfortunes. When reporting on the Kobe Quake, I heard from residents that gangsters from neighboring Osaka were marauding at night to loot the wrecked homes and rape young girls. Of source, yakuza are not the only felons. There were international NGOs on the Thai beaches celebrating with Lanson champagne in a hotel next door to an open-air morgue. The sight of human vulnerability brings out the predatory instincts in certain people, a blood-thirsty dementia or just plain avarice.
A minor point, though telling, is that the last thing I aim to do is attract tourists back to Fukushima. That should not happen until the Fukushima 1 plant is decommissioned and all factors - roads, water, food - undergo strict testing for radiation levels by credible experts.
Sunflowers to clean radioactive soil in Japan
Jun 24, 2011
People stroll through a flower garden filled with sunflowers swinging in the wind on the outskirts of Tokyo. Campaigners in Japan are asking people to grow sunflowers -- said to help decontaminate radioactive soil -- in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed March's massive quake and tsunami.
Campaigners in Japan are asking people to grow sunflowers, said to help decontaminate radioactive soil, in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed March's massive quake and tsunami.
Volunteers are being asked to grow sunflowers this year, then send the seeds to the stricken area where they will be planted next year to help get rid of radioactive contaminants in the plant's fallout zone.
The campaign, launched by young entrepreneurs and civil servants in Fukushima prefecture last month, aims to cover large areas in yellow blossoms as a symbol of hope and reconstruction and to lure back tourists.
"We will give the seeds sent back by people for free to farmers, the public sector and other groups next year," said project leader Shinji Handa. The goal is a landscape so yellow that "it will surprise NASA", he said.
The massive earthquake and tsunami left more than 23,000 people dead or missing on Japan's northeast coast and crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant that has leaked radiation into the environment since.
Almost 10,000 packets of sunflower seeds at 500 yen ($6) each have so far been sold to some 30,000 people, including to the city of Yokohama nearTokyo, which is growing sunflowers in 200 parks, Handa said.
Handa -- who hails from Hiroshima, hit by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II -- said the sunflower project was a way for people across the nation to lend their support to the disaster region.
"This is different from donations because people will grow the flowers, and a mother can tell her children that it is like an act of prayer for the reconstruction of the northeast," Handa said.
"I also hope the project will give momentum to attract tourists back to Fukushima with sunflower seeds in their hands. I would like to make a maze using sunflowers so that children can play in it."
Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium
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