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Novel Insights into Fukushima Nuclear Accident from Isotopic Evidence of Plutonium Spread along Coastal Rivers

Abstract : The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident led to important releases of radionuclides into the environment, and trace levels of plutonium (Pu) were detected in northeastern Japan. However, measurement of Pu isotopic atom and activity ratios is required to differentiate between the contributions of global nuclear test fallout and FDNPP emissions. In this study, we used a double-focusing sector field ICP-MS to measure Pu atom and activity ratios in recently deposited sediment along rivers draining the most contaminated part of the inland radioactive plume. Results showed that plutonium isotopes (i.e., 239 Pu, 240 Pu, 241 Pu, and 242 Pu) were detected in all samples, although in extremely low concentrations. The 241 Pu/ 239 Pu atom ratios measured in sediment deposits (0.0017-0.0884) were significantly higher than the corresponding values attributed to the global fallout (0.00113±0.00008 on average for the Northern Hemisphere between 31°-71°N, Kelley, J.M.; Bond, L.A.; Beasley, T.M., Global distribution of Pu isotopes and 237 Np, Sci. Total. Env., 1999, 237/238, 483-500). The results indicated the presence of Pu from FDNPP, in slight excess compared to the Pu background from global fallout that represented up to ca. 60% of Pu in the analyzed samples. These results demonstrate that this radionuclide has been transported relatively long distances (∼45 km) from FDNPP and been deposited in rivers representing a potential source of Pu to the ocean. In future, the high 241 Pu/ 239 Pu atom ratio of the Fukushima accident sourced-Pu should be measured to quantify the supply of continental-originating material from Fukushima Prefecture to the Pacific Ocean.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 2:14:03 PM
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O. Evrard, Fabien Pointurier, Yuichi Onda, Caroline Chartin, Amélie Hubert, et al.. Novel Insights into Fukushima Nuclear Accident from Isotopic Evidence of Plutonium Spread along Coastal Rivers. Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society, 2014, 48 (16), pp.9334-9340. ⟨10.1021/es501890n⟩. ⟨cea-02614708⟩

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