Planting Seeds of Peace at Bangor

Susan Crane

In the fall of 2009, when the Disarm Now Plowshares activists went for a walk on Naval  Base Kitsap/Bangor, they carried with them the hope for nuclear abolition and hundreds of sunflower seeds to sow on the base.

Sunflowers are the international symbol of nuclear disarmament.

The sunflower plants are able to extract pollutants, including radioactive metal contaminants,  through their roots and store them in the stems and leaves.  This process is called phytoremediation.

After the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine in 1986, rafts with sunflowers growing on them floated on a small pond. The plants were used to  clean the pond; their roots dangled in the water to suck up the radionuclides cesium 137 and strontium 90. The Chernobyl sunflower project began in 1994. The plants  absorb cesium and strontium and then after they have been about three weeks in the water, the plants  are disposed of as radioactive waste. Continue reading

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