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The IRSN’s earliest assessments of the Fukushima accident's consequences for the terrestrial environment in Japan

Abstract

In 2011 the IRSN conducted several assessments of atmospheric radioactive releases due to the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident (March 11, 2011) and of their impact on Japan’s terrestrial environment. They were based on the IRSN’s emergency management tools and on the abundant information and technical data gradually published in Japan. According to these assessments, the main release phase lasted from March 12 to 25, 2011 and impacted Japanese land in two events, the first on 15 and 16 March, in which the main radioactive deposits were formed, and the second from March 20 to 23, which was less significant. The highest amounts of radioactive deposits were found in an area extending upwards of several tens of kilometers northwest of the plant. Lower amounts were discontinuously scattered in an area extending up to over 250 km away. Initially composed mainly of short-lived radionuclides, the deposits’ activity sharply decreased in the subsequent weeks. Since the summer of 2011, cesium-134 and cesium-137 have become the residual deposits’ main components. According to IRSN estimates, in the absence of protection, the doses due to exposure to the radioactive plume during the atmospheric release phase may have been potentially higher for people who remained in coastal areas up to several tens of kilometers north and south of the damaged plant. Thereafter, people living up to 50 km northwest of the plant, outside the 20-km emergency evacuation zone, were potentially most vulnerable to residual radioactive deposits over time.

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References

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The IRSN’s earliest assessments of the Fukushima accident's consequences for the terrestrial environment in Japan

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