RAPID RADIOCHEMICAL ANALYSES IN SUPPORT OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR ACCIDENT

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There is an increasing need to develop faster analytical methods for emergency response, including emergency soil and air filter samples. The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) performed analyses on samples received from Japan in April, 2011 as part of a U.S. Department of Energy effort to provide assistance to the government of Japan, following the nuclear event at Fukushima Daiichi, resulting from the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Of particular concern was whether it was safe to plant rice in certain areas (prefectures) near Fukushima. The primary objectives of the sample collection, sample analysis, and data assessment teams ... continued below

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Maxwell, S. November 7, 2012.

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There is an increasing need to develop faster analytical methods for emergency response, including emergency soil and air filter samples. The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) performed analyses on samples received from Japan in April, 2011 as part of a U.S. Department of Energy effort to provide assistance to the government of Japan, following the nuclear event at Fukushima Daiichi, resulting from the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Of particular concern was whether it was safe to plant rice in certain areas (prefectures) near Fukushima. The primary objectives of the sample collection, sample analysis, and data assessment teams were to evaluate personnel exposure hazards, identify the nuclear power plant radiological source term and plume deposition, and assist the government of Japan in assessing any environmental and agricultural impacts associated with the nuclear event. SRNL analyzed approximately 250 samples and reported approximately 500 analytical method determinations. Samples included soil from farmland surrounding the Fukushima reactors and air monitoring samples of national interest, including those collected at the U.S. Embassy and American military bases. Samples were analyzed for a wide range of radionuclides, including strontium-89, strontium-90, gamma-emitting radionuclides, and plutonium, uranium, americium and curium isotopes. Technical aspects of the rapid soil and air filter analyses will be described. The extent of radiostrontium contamination was a significant concern. For {sup 89,90}Sr analyses on soil samples, a rapid fusion technique using 1.5 gram soil aliquots to enable a Minimum Detectable Activity (MDA) of <1 pCi {sup 89,90} Sr /g of soil was employed. This sequential technique has been published recently by this laboratory for actinides and radiostrontium in soil and vegetation. It consists of a rapid sodium hydroxide fusion, pre-concentration steps using iron hydroxide and calcium fluoride precipitations, followed by Sr-Resin separation and gas flow proportional counting. To achieve a lower detection limit for analysis of some of the Japanese soil samples, a 10 gram aliquot of soil was taken, acid-leached and processed with similar preconcentration chemistry. The MDA using this approach was ~0.03 pCi/g (1.1 mBq/g)/, which is less than the 0.05-0.10 pCi/g {sup 90}Sr levels found in soil as a result of global fallout. The chemical yields observed for the Japanese soil samples was typically 75-80% and the laboratory control sample (LCS) and matrix spike (MS) results looked very good for this work Individual QC results were well within the ± 25% acceptable range and the average of these results does not show significant bias. Additional data for a radiostrontium in soil method for 50 gram samples will also be presented, which appears to be a significant step forward based on looking at the current literature, with higher chemical yields for even larger sample aliquots and lower MDA. Hou et al surveyed a wide range of separation methods for Pu in waters and environmental solid samples. While there are many actinide methods in the scientific literature, few would be considered rapid due to the tedious and time-consuming steps involved. For actinide analyses in soil, a new rapid method for the determination of actinide isotopes in soil samples using both alpha spectrometry and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry was employed. The new rapid soil method utilizes an acid leaching method, iron/titanium hydroxide precipitation, a lanthanum fluoride soil matrix removal step, and a rapid column separation process with TEVA Resin. The large soil matrix is removed easily and rapidly using these two simple precipitations with high chemical recoveries and effective removal of interferences. Vacuum box technology and rapid flow rates were used to reduce analytical time. Challenges associated with the mineral content in the volcanic soil will be discussed. Air filter samples were reported within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt using rapid techniques published previously. The rapid reporting of high quality analytical data arranged through the U.S. Department of Energy Consequence Management Home Team was critical to allow the government of Japan to readily evaluate radiological impacts from the nuclear reactor incident to both personnel and the environment. SRNL employed unique rapid methods capability for radionuclides to support Japan that can also be applied to environmental, bioassay and waste management samples. New rapid radiochemical techniques for radionuclides in soil and other environmental matrices as well as some of the unique challenges associated with this work will be presented that can be used for application to environmental monitoring, environmental remediation, decommissioning and decontamination activities.

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  • Report No.: SRNL-STI-2012-00704R1
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1067353
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc828117

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  • November 7, 2012

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  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 4:46 p.m.

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Maxwell, S. RAPID RADIOCHEMICAL ANALYSES IN SUPPORT OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR ACCIDENT, article, November 7, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc828117/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.