Both the three-dimensional internal structure and elemental distribution of near-field radioactive fallout particulate material released during the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is analysed using combined high-resolution laboratory and synchrotron radiation x-ray techniques. Results from this study allow for the proposition of the likely formation mechanism of the particles, as well as the potential risks associated with their existence in the environment, and the likely implications for future planned reactor decommissioning. A suite of particles is analyzed from a locality 2 km from the north-western perimeter of the site – north of the primary contaminant plume in an area formerly attributed to being contaminated by fallout from reactor Unit 1. The particles are shown to exhibit significant structural similarities; being amorphous with a textured exterior, and containing inclusions of contrasting compositions, as well as an extensive internal void volume – bimodal in its size distribution. A heterogeneous distribution of the various elemental constituents is observed inside a representative particle, which also exhibited a Fukushima-derived radiocesium (134Cs, 135Cs and 137Cs) signature with negligible natural Cs.
We consider the structure and composition of the particle to suggest it formed from materials associated with the reactor Unit 1 building explosion, with debris fragments embedded into the particles surface. Such a high void ratio, comparable to geological pumice, suggests such material formed during a rapid depressurisation and is potentially susceptible to fragmentation through attrition.
- Fukushima Dai-ichi
- Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
- Fukushima Daiichi
- Nuclear accident
- nuclear materials
- Diamond Light Source
- X-ray micro-tomography