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J Environ Radioact. 2012 Sep;111:100-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2011.10.007. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Distribution of oceanic 137Cs from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant simulated numerically by a regional ocean model.

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Environmental Science Research Laboratory, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, 1646 Abiko, Abiko-shi, Chiba-ken 270-1194, Japan.


Radioactive materials were released to the environment from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant as a result of the reactor accident after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011. The measured (137)Cs concentration in a seawater sample near the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant site reached 68 kBq L(-1) (6.8 × 10(4)Bq L(-1)) on 6 April. The two major likely pathways from the accident site to the ocean existed: direct release of high radioactive liquid wastes to the ocean and the deposition of airborne radioactivity to the ocean surface. By analysis of the (131)I/(137)Cs activity ratio, we determined that direct release from the site contributed more to the measured (137)Cs concentration than atmospheric deposition did. We then used a regional ocean model to simulate the (137)Cs concentrations resulting from the direct release to the ocean off Fukushima and found that from March 26 to the end of May the total amount of (137)Cs directly released was 3.5 ± 0.7 PBq ((3.5 ± 0.7) × 10(15)Bq). The simulated temporal change in (137)Cs concentrations near the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant site agreed well with observations. Our simulation results showed that (1) the released (137)Cs advected southward along the coast during the simulation period; (2) the eastward-flowing Kuroshio and its extension transported (137)C during May 2011; and (3) (137)Cs concentrations decreased to less than 10 BqL(-1) by the end of May 2011 in the whole simulation domain as a result of oceanic advection and diffusion. We compared the total amount and concentration of (137)Cs released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors to the ocean with the (137)Cs released to the ocean by global fallout. Even though the measured (137)Cs concentration from the Fukushima accident was the highest recorded, the total released amount of (137)Cs was not very large. Therefore, the effect of (137)Cs released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors on concentration in the whole North Pacific was smaller than that of past release events such as global fallout, and the amount of (137)Cs expected to reach other oceanic basins is negligible comparing with the past radioactive input.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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