<sup>90</sup>Sr and <sup>89</sup>Sr in seawater off Japan as a consequence of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • <p><strong>Abstract.</strong> The impact of the earthquake and tsunami on the east coast of Japan on 11 March 2011 caused a loss of power at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant (NPP) that resulted in one of the most important releases of artificial radioactivity into the environment. Although several works were devoted to evaluating the atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides, the impact of the discharges to the ocean has been less investigated. Here we evaluate the distribution of Fukushima-derived <sup>90</sup>Sr (<i>n</i> = 57) and <sup>89</sup>Sr (<i>n</i> = 19) throughout waters 30–600 km offshore in June 2011. Concentrations of <sup>90</sup>Sr and <sup>89</sup>Sr in both surface waters and shallow profiles ranged from 0.8 ± 0.2 to 85 ± 3 Bq m<sup>?3</sup> and from 19 ± 6 to 265 ± 74 Bq m<sup>?3</sup>, respectively. Because of its short half-life, all measured <sup>89</sup>Sr was due to the accident, while the <sup>90</sup>Sr concentrations can be compared to the background levels in the Pacific Ocean of about 1.2 Bq m<sup>?3</sup>. Fukushima-derived radiostrontium was mainly detected north of Kuroshio Current, as this was acting as a southern boundary for transport. The highest activities were associated with near-shore eddies, and larger inventories were found in the closest stations to Fukushima NPP. The data evidence a major influence of direct liquid discharges of radiostrontium compared to the atmospheric deposition. Existing <sup>137</sup>Cs data reported from the same samples allowed us to establish a <sup>90</sup>Sr / <sup>137</sup>Cs ratio of 0.0256 ± 0.0006 in seawater off Fukushima, being significantly different than that of the global atmospheric fallout (i.e., 0.63) and may be used in future studies to track waters coming from the east coast of Japan. Liquid discharges of <sup>90</sup>Sr to the ocean were estimated, resulting in an inventory of 53 ± 1 TBq of <sup>90</sup>Sr in the inshore study area in June 2011 and total releases of <sup>90</sup>Sr ranging from 90 to 900 TBq, depending upon the reported estimates of <sup>137</sup>Cs releases that are considered.</p>

publication date

  • June 3, 2013