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Plutonium isotopic signatures in soils and their variation (2011-2014) in sediment transiting a coastal river in the Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

Abstract : The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident resulted in a significant release of radionuclides that were deposited on soils in Northeastern Japan. Plutonium was detected at trace levels in soils and sediments collected around the FDNPP. However, little is known regarding the spatial-temporal variation of plutonium in sediment transiting rivers in the region. In this study, plutonium isotopic compositions were first measured in soils (n = 5) in order to investigate the initial plutonium deposition. Then, plutonium isotopic compositions were measured on flood sediment deposits (n = 12) collected after major typhoon events in 2011, 2013 and 2014. After a thorough radiochemical purification, isotopic ratios ($^{240}$Pu/$^{239}$Pu, $^{241}$Pu/$^{239}$Pu and $^{242}$Pu/$^{239}$Pu) were measured with a Multi-Collector Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometer (MC ICP-MS), providing discrimination between plutonium derived from global fallout, from atmospheric nuclear weapon tests, and plutonium derived from the FDNPP accident. Results demonstrate that soils with the most Fukushima-derived plutonium were in the main radiocaesium plume and that there was a variable mixture of plutonium sources in the flood sediment samples. Plutonium concentrations and isotopic ratios generally decreased between 2011 and 2014, reflecting the progressive erosion and transport of contaminated sediment in this coastal river during flood events. Exceptions to this general trend were attributed to the occurrence of decontamination works or the remobilisation of contaminated material during typhoons. The different plutonium concentrations and isotopic ratios obtained on three aliquots of a single sample suggest that the Fukushima-derived plutonium was likely borne by discrete plutonium-containing particles. In the future, these particles should be isolated and further characterized in order to better understand the fate of this long-lived radionuclide in the environment.
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Hugo Jaegler, Fabien Pointurier, Yuichi Onda, Amélie Hubert, J. Patrick Laceby, et al.. Plutonium isotopic signatures in soils and their variation (2011-2014) in sediment transiting a coastal river in the Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Environmental Pollution, Elsevier, 2018, 240, pp.167-176. ⟨10.1016/j.envpol.2018.04.094⟩. ⟨cea-02610576⟩

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