Natural disasters both fascinate and horrify us. When the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, everyone was appalled at the devastation which resulted in the deaths of around 19,000 people, effecting 115 cities in eight prefectures (regions) of Japan.
Further horror was to come with critical damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. This third disaster resulted in radioactive contamination of soil and grass in and around 53 cities.
The humanitarian response to the earthquake and tsunami was massive and immediate. But the long term effects of environmental nuclear contamination needs years of recovery and Campeys are proud to be able to play a small but significant part in this process.
In the months following the disaster, the Japanese Government took measures to decontaminate the worst affected areas. The Ministry of the Environment experimented with many different ways to reduce the radioactivity held in the grass and soil of public spaces and sports fields.
The Toyo-Green Group is one of the foremost companies in Japan specializing in turf grass science, engineering and management, and is the Japanese distributor for Campey products. Since the nuclear disaster the Toyo Maintenance department has been applying its expertise in this field by implementing effective methods of nuclear de-contamination in soil and turf.
David Harrison, Export Sales Manager for Campey Turf Care Systems, working with Toyo Maintenance were able to give advice on available equipment to assist them in their de-contamination campaign. The recommendation was the Koro Field Top Maker (FTM) - a heavy-duty fraise mower - used all over the world to renovate professional sports pitches and other sports turf facilities.
"The Koro FTM gets rid of unwanted surface matter such as poa annua, thatch, weeds or the entire surface to a depth of 50mm, and has proved to be the ideal machine to tackle this problem" explained David.
"There is now a fleet of Koro FTM's being used to remove the top surface layer of contaminated turf, where radioactivity had been absorbed into the layer of thatch. By doing this, and burying the spoil in specially lined pits, contamination can effectively be reduced to a safe level. The precision depth setting of the Koro FTM allows turf to be stripped accurately at levels that will regenerate without having to be re-instated at additional cost."
The Koro FTM has received official backing from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and no time is being lost putting them to work. As the only machines of its type approved for use on the nuclear clean-up project in Japan, they are already in action in the affected zones, cleaning up parks, sports fields and residential areas, as well as going into rice-paddies and hay fields too.
Decontamination in this form will be completed by March 2014 but many of the cities closest to Fukushima will take several more years of intensive clearance and re-construction before their open spaces are safe to be used again.