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Strategies and effectiveness of land decontamination in the region affected by radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident: A review: SOIL Discussions

Abstract : The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident in March 2011 resulted in the contamination of Japanese landscapes with radioactive fallout. Accordingly, the Japanese authorities decided to conduct extensive remediation activities in the impacted region to allow for the relatively rapid return of the local population. The objective of this review is to provide an overview of the decontamination strategies and their potential effectiveness in Japan, focussing on particle-bound radiocesium. In the Fukushima Prefecture, the decision was taken to decontaminate the fallout-impacted landscapes in November 2011 for the 11 municipalities evacuated after the accident (Special Decontamination Zones – SDZ, 1117 km²) and for the 40 non-evacuated municipalities affected by lower, although still significant, levels of radioactivity (Intensive Contamination Survey Areas, 7836 km²). Decontamination activities predominantly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. No decontamination activities are currently planned for the majority of forested areas, which cover ~75% of the main fallout-impacted region. Research investigating the effectiveness of decontamination activities underlined the need to undertake concerted actions at the catchment scale to avoid the renewed supply of contamination from the catchment headwaters after the completion of remediation activities. Although the impact of decontamination on the radioactive dose rates for the local population remains a subject of debate in the literature and in the local communities, outdoor workers in the SDZ represent a group of the local population that may exceed the long-term dosimetric target of 1mSv yr1. Decontamination activities generated ~20 million m3 of soil waste by early 2019. The volume of waste generated by decontamination may be decreased through incineration of combustible material and recycling of the less contaminated soil for civil engineering structures. However, most of this material will have to be stored for ~30 years at interim facilities opened in 2017 in the close vicinity of the FDNPP before being potentially transported to final disposal sites outside of the Fukushima Prefecture. Further research is required to investigate the perennial contribution of radiocesium from forest sources. In addition, the re-cultivation of farmland after decontamination raises additional questions associated with the fertility of remediated soils and the potential transfer of residual radiocesium to the plants. Overall, we believe it is important to synthesize the remediation lessons learnt following the FDNPP nuclear accident, which could be fundamental if a similar catastrophe occurs somewhere on Earth in the future.
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Submitted on : Saturday, June 6, 2020 - 10:47:56 AM
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O. Evrard, J. Patrick Laceby, Atsushi Nakao. Strategies and effectiveness of land decontamination in the region affected by radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident: A review: SOIL Discussions. 2019. ⟨cea-02812441⟩



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