Study provides insights on sources of environmental contamination following Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

January 19, 2016

Four years after Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster that led to major releases of radioactivity to environment, questions still remain regarding the original sources of radioactive contamination. Investigators have now used rice, soil, mushroom, and soybean samples taken 100 to 250 km from the plant and tested them with a method called cesium isotopic analysis to help discriminate between environmental contamination from different nuclear reactor cores at the plant.

Their results suggest that radiocesium to the southwest is derived from a mixture of reactor cores 1, 2, and 3. Conclusions from the cesium isotopic data are in agreement with those derived independently based upon the chronology of events and meteorological conditions at the time of the disaster.

"Determining which reactor or spent fuel cooling pond may have contributed to contamination at a given location in Japan is incredibly challenging," said Dr. Mathew Snow, lead author of the Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry study. "However, cesium isotopic analyses combined with known meteorological data provide a very promising approach to doing this. These types of techniques will likely be of great benefit to environmental remediation and contamination transport studies in Japan and the rest of the world during the coming decades."

Explore further: Plant-based molecule may be key to cleanup of Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster

More information: Mathew S. Snow et al. Fukushima Daiichi reactor source term attribution using cesium isotope ratios from contaminated environmental samples, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry (2016). DOI: 10.1002/rcm.7468

Related Stories

Higher levels of Fukushima cesium detected offshore

December 3, 2015

Scientists monitoring the spread of radiation in the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear accident report finding an increased number of sites off the US West Coast showing signs of contamination from Fukushima. This includes ...

Mountains limited spread of fallout from Fukushima

November 14, 2011

A map of radioactive contamination across Japan from the Fukushima power plant disaster confirms high levels in eastern and northeastern areas but finds much lower levels in the western part of the country, thanks to mountain ...

Examining the fate of Fukushima contaminants

August 18, 2015

An international research team reports results of a three-year study of sediment samples collected offshore from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in a new paper published August 18, 2015, in the American Chemical ...

Protecting crops from radiation-contaminated soil

March 5, 2015

Almost four years after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, farmland remains contaminated with higher-than-natural levels of radiocesium in some regions of Japan, with cesium-134 and cesium-137 ...

Recommended for you

Why cryptophyte algae are really good at harvesting light

December 8, 2016

In an algae-eat-algae world, it's the single-celled photosynthetic organisms at the top (layer of the ocean) that absorb the most sunlight. Underneath, in the sublayers, are cryptophyte algae that must compete for photons ...

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster

December 8, 2016

After decades of eluding researchers because of chemical instability, key metal-oxide clusters have been isolated in water, a significant advance for growing the clusters with the impeccable control over atoms that's required ...

Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks

December 8, 2016

Bacterial resistance does not come just through adaptation to antibiotics, sometimes the bacteria simply go to sleep. An international team of researchers is looking at compounds that attack bacteria's ability to go dormant ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.