Like the canary in a coalmine, birds tell real story of Fukushima

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Like a canary in a coalmine, birds are a good indicator of the quality of an environment. A study has found that Fukushima prefecture has not been friendly to our feathered friends since that fateful day four years ago, and things are not getting better.

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Using animals as environmental indicators is not a new idea, particularly when it involves studying the after effects of radiation. The flora and fauna in and around the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster have been studied for years.

Now it is Fukushima’s turn to be studied. Starting a few months after March 11, 2011, when the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant disaster occurred, University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau and his colleagues have been monitoring the avian population in and around the Fukushima plant.

Lasting three years, and studying the populations of bird species at over 400 sites around Fukushima, Dr. Mousseau’s team…

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