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J Environ Radioact. 2014 Jun;132:94-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Mar 6.

Detection of (133)Xe from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the upper troposphere above Germany.

Author information

  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Saupfercheckweg 1, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany. Electronic address: Hardy.Simgen@mpi-hd.mpg.de.
  • 2Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Saupfercheckweg 1, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany; Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, D-82234 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
  • 3Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, D-82234 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
  • 4Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Saupfercheckweg 1, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany.
  • 5Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, D-82234 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Electronic address: Hans.Schlager@dlr.de.
  • 6Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, Rosastraße 9, D-79098 Freiburg, Germany. Electronic address: cschlosser@bfs.de.

Abstract

After the accident in the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 large amounts of radioactivity were released and distributed in the atmosphere. Among them were also radioactive noble gas isotopes which can be used as tracers to test global atmospheric circulation models. This work presents unique measurements of the radionuclide (133)Xe from Fukushima in the upper troposphere above Germany. The measurements involve air sampling in a research jet aircraft followed by chromatographic xenon extraction and ultra-low background gas counting with miniaturized proportional counters. With this technique a detection limit of the order of 100 (133)Xe atoms in liter-scale air samples (corresponding to about 100 mBq/m(3)) is achievable. Our results provide proof that the (133)Xe-rich ground level air layer from Fukushima was lifted up to the tropopause and distributed hemispherically. Moreover, comparisons with ground level air measurements indicate that the arrival of the radioactive plume at high altitude over Germany occurred several days before the ground level plume.

KEYWORDS:

Fukushima; Low-level gas counting; Radioxenon; Reactor accident; Ultra-low background; Xenon-133

PMID:
24607612
DOI:
10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.02.002
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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