A paper by a researcher at Tokyo University about discovery of neptunium-239 and other short-lived nuclides in Iitate-mura seems to have finally been accepted and published by Environmental Pollution, a peer-reviewed scientific magazine. It was made available online on January 20, 2012, and is published in the April 2012 issue of the magazine.
It took nearly 1 year for off-line readers to know about the discovery. The researcher took the samples of soil, plants and water in early April last year.
In August last year there was an article of neptunium-239 having been discovered in Iitate-mura, 35 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, by a researcher at Tokyo University. The article was written by a husband and wife comedian couple. (For more, see my post on August 15, 2011.) They were criticized for not revealing the source (name of this researcher) or the details. Their response was that the researcher was submitting the paper to a peer-reviewed magazine.
Well here it is, published by a peer-reviewed magazine nearly one year after the accident, and now utterly irrelevant except for some academic curiosity. The information, as it sat in limbo of peer-reviewing process, was not used to educate, warn people in Fukushima, particularly in Iitate-mura, so that they could decide what to do. If they had known their soil and vegetation were extremely contaminated with short-lived radionuclides with strong radioactivity, they might have done things differently.
I hope the researcher at least warned the villagers privately.
Volume 163, April 2012, Pages 243–247
Deposition of fission and activation products after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident
* Katsumi Shozugawa (a), Corresponding author
* Norio Nogawa (b),
* Motoyuki Matsuo (a)
* a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
* b Radioisotope Center, The University of Tokyo, 2-11-16 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan
* Received 22 August 2011. Revised 24 December 2011. Accepted 1 January 2012. Available online 20 January 2012.
The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, damaged reactor cooling systems at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The subsequent venting operation and hydrogen explosion resulted in a large radioactive nuclide emission from reactor containers into the environment. Here, we collected environmental samples such as soil, plant species, and water on April 10, 2011, in front of the power plant main gate as well as 35 km away in Iitate village, and observed gamma-rays with a Ge(Li) semiconductor detector. We observed activation products (239Np and 59Fe) and fission products (131I, 134Cs (133Cs), 137Cs, 110mAg (109Ag), 132Te, 132I, 140Ba, 140La, 91Sr, 91Y, 95Zr, and 95Nb). 239Np is the parent nuclide of 239Pu; 59Fe are presumably activation products of 58Fe obtained by corrosion of cooling pipes. The results show that these activation and fission products, diffused within a month of the accident.
► We collected environmental samples near the Fukushima nuclear power plant. ► We observed 239Np and 59Fe along with many fission products. ► 239Np is evidently an activation product of 238U contained in nuclear fuel. ► 239Np is also parent nuclide of 239Pu. ► Our results show that activation products diffused within a month of the accident.
If the data in the paper is not much different from what the researcher had put on his own website last year, Iitate-mura had several thousand becquerels/kg of neptunium-239, exceeding one of the two sampling locations in front of the Fukushima I plant gate. Iitate-mura also had a host of other radionuclides in amounts exceeding the immediate vicinity of the plant or the front gate of the plant or even inside the plant.
You can see the charts for yourself, here. They are from the researcher’s presentation last year, not from the paper submitted and accepted at Environmental Pollution.