The earthquake in Japan and the resulting nuclear power plant disaster at Fukushima has rocked the entire world with the threat and spread of nuclear waste contamination. The unknown amount of different hazardous chemicals has been released into the atmosphere and ocean that threaten our food chain for the long foreseeable future. Marijuana may be one of the alternative keys reducing this damage we all face.
Many people know that the cannabis plant has amazing healing powers; however the same plant can literally “eat away” nuclear waste. From the flower’s ability to aid and keep people from going blind, to the woody core of the stem’s ability to build fire proof homes and much more. Now, we can add another use to the list: Marijuana as a tool to clean up nuclear contamination around Chernobyl.
Historically in 1998, the Consolidated Growers and Processors (CGP), Phytotech, and the Ukraine’s Institute of Bast Crops planted industrial marijuana to help remove contaminants in the soil near Chernobyl. Marijuana is one of the best plants for a process called phytoremediation that has been mentioned before. It is a term coined by Dr. Ilya Raskin of Rutgers University’s Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment. Dr. Raskin had been sent to examine food safety at the Chernobyl site.
Phytotech specializes in phytoremediation, the general term for using phyto (plants) to remediate (clean up) polluted sites. Phytoremediation has been used to remove radioactive elements from soil and water at former weapons producing areas. It can also be used to clean up metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, and toxins leaching from landfills. Plants break down or degrade organic pollutants and stabilize metal contaminants by acting as filters or traps. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that more than 30,000 sites in the United States alone require hazardous waste treatment. Since nowadays there are so many pollutants and nuclear radiations everywhere on the entire earth and sea we might expect there are many more locations almost everywhere.
Founded in 1931, the Institute of Bast Crops is now the leading research institution in the Ukraine, working on seed breeding, seed growing, cultivating, harvesting and processing hemp (marijuana) and flax. The Bast Institute has a genetic bank that includes 400 varieties of hemp from various regions of the world. Newer technologies in hemp harvesting and processing are also being developed at the institute whose library contains more than 55,000 volumes mainly on hemp growing and flax growing. “Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find,” said Slavik Dushenkov, a research scientist with Phytotech.
The company Phytotech lists the benefits of phytoremediation (compared to traditional remedial technologies):
- Lower cost
- Applicability to a broad range of metals
- Potential for recycling the metal-rich biomass
- Minimal environmental disturbance
- Minimization of secondary air and waterborne wastes
Growing cannabis can improve the soil when it grown as a break crop i.e. to relieve and revitalize the soil between crops. Farmers are getting a 27% increased yield after the marijuana crop because industrial marijuana puts nitrogen back into the soil, suppress weeds and diseases, and clean contaminates out of the planet, then you would realize this plant is medicine for our Mother Earth.
There are more plants that could clean nuclear radiation after we had discussed on sunflower, sansevieria previously and marijuana in this post. Thanks for reading.