Plutonium release from Fukushima Daiichi fosters the need for more detailed investigations

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Schneider, Stephanie; Walther, Clemens; Bister, Stefan; Schauer, Viktoria; Christl, Marcus et al.: Plutonium release from Fukushima Daiichi fosters the need for more detailed investigations. In: Scientific Reports 3 (2013), 2988. DOI:

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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 Pu-240/Pu-239. 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 (Pu239+240 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.
License of this version: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported
Document Type: article
Publishing status: publishedVersion
Issue Date: 2013-10-18
Appears in Collections:Fakultät für Mathematik und Physik

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