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Was radiation near Fukushima plant behind birth of earless rabbit?

June 11, 2011 - London

Fresh fears over a nuclear leak at Japan's tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant have re-ignited after a rabbit born close to the facility was discovered with no ears.

According to The Daily Mail, locals have been left wondering whether the earless rabbit, which was reportedly found near the nuclear power plant in May, is the first sign of side effects from the nuclear catastrophe.

The facility was damaged by the devastating March 11 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

It has been releasing large amounts of radioactive material, and the nuclear emergency level is currently on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, described as the world's worst ever-peacetime nuclear event.

Earlier, the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled facility, had said that extremely high radiation had been detected at the reactor building No.1.

The radiation readings were up to 4,000 millisieverts per hour at the building, the TEPCO had said.

However, experts are skeptical as to whether radiation could be responsible for the rabbit's lack of ears.

"I have to wonder whether there are any other bunnies in the group that have anomalies like that. I didn't see any. And that would make me very hesitant to cry radiation just because one baby bunny is missing his external ear pinnae," Dana Krempels, from the US-based House Rabbit Society, said.

"Whether it's due to radiation or some other factor is not possible to say, since these types of malformations do occasionally occur in the absence of known mutagens," she added.


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