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J Environ Radioact. 2012 Dec;114:2-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2011.11.015. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Estimation of marine source-term following Fukushima Dai-ichi accident.

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IRSN/DEI/SECRE/LRC - Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, Direction de l'Environnement et de l'Intervention, Laboratoire de Radioécologie de Cherbourg, Octeville, rue Max Pol Fouchet, B.P. 10, 50130 Cherbourg-Octeville, France.


Contamination of the marine environment following the accident in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant represented the most important artificial radioactive release flux into the sea ever known. The radioactive marine pollution came from atmospheric fallout onto the ocean, direct release of contaminated water from the plant and transport of radioactive pollution from leaching through contaminated soil. In the immediate vicinity of the plant (less than 500 m), the seawater concentrations reached 68,000 Bq.L(-1) for (134)Cs and (137)Cs, and exceeded 100,000 Bq.L(-1) for (131)I in early April. Due to the accidental context of the releases, it is difficult to estimate the total amount of radionuclides introduced into seawater from data obtained in the plant. An evaluation is proposed here, based on measurements performed in seawater for monitoring purposes. Quantities of (137)Cs in seawater in a 50-km area around the plant were calculated from interpolation of seawater measurements. The environmental halftime of seawater in this area is deduced from the time-evolution of these quantities. This halftime appeared constant at about 7 days for (137)Cs. These data allowed estimation of the amount of principal marine inputs and their evolution in time: a total of 27 PBq (12 PBq-41 PBq) of (137)Cs was estimated up to July 18. Even though this main release may be followed by residual inputs from the plant, river runoff and leakage from deposited sediments, it represents the principal source-term that must be accounted for future studies of the consequences of the accident on marine systems. The (137)Cs from Fukushima will remain detectable for several years throughout the North Pacific, and (137)Cs/(134)Cs ratio will be a tracer for future studies.

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