17 March 2017
- Vincenzo Fornaro’s farm is less than a mile from the steel mill. His entire stash of 600 sheep had to be killed over a decade ago, and he’s since been forbidden from raising livestock or crops for food. So instead, as CBS News reported, he’s growing weed—not to smoke or to sell, but to pull the steel mill’s toxins out of his soil.
Fornaro has planted massive stands of industrial hemp on his farm. He’s employing a tactic called “phytoremediation,” in which plants are used to remove heavy metals, radioactive material and other bad stuff from the earth.
Industrial hemp has been used to clean up deadly pollutants before, perhaps most famously near the site of the deadly nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in what is now Ukraine (and where, it should not go unstated, thousands of people are still at work at the power station, which produces six percent of the nation’s electricity). In the mid-1990s, a company called Phytotech worked with researchers and a Ukraine-based seed bank to plant thousands of hemp plants in and around Chernobyl.