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Plutonium release from Fukushima Daiichi fosters the need for more detailed investigations.
Schneider-S; Walther-C; Bister-S; Schauer-V; Christl-M; Synal-H-A; Shozugawa-K; Steinhauser-G
Sci Rep 2013 Oct; 3:2988
The contamination of Japan after the Fukushima accident has been investigated mainly for volatile fission products, but only sparsely for actinides such as plutonium. Only small releases of actinides were estimated in Fukushima. Plutonium is still omnipresent in the environment from previous atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. We investigated soil and plants sampled at different hot spots in Japan, searching for reactor-borne plutonium using its isotopic ratio 240Pu/239Pu. By using accelerator mass spectrometry, we clearly demonstrated the release of Pu from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant: While most samples contained only the radionuclide signature of fallout plutonium, there is at least one vegetation sample whose isotope ratio (0.381 +/- 0.046) evidences that the Pu originates from a nuclear reactor (239+240Pu activity concentration 0.49 Bq/kg). Plutonium content and isotope ratios differ considerably even for very close sampling locations, e.g. the soil and the plants growing on it. This strong localization indicates a particulate Pu release, which is of high radiological risk if incorporated.
Nuclear-energy; Nuclear-power-plants; Nuclear-reactor-accidents; Fission-reactors; Radiation-contamination; Plutonium-compounds; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-hazards; Volatiles; Sampling; Soil-analysis; Soil-sampling; Plants; Vegetation; Mass-spectrometry; Radioisotopes; Radionuclides; Monitoring-systems; Accidents; Radioactive-fallout
Georg Steinhauser, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1618, USA
University of Colorado, Denver
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division