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Press release | Focus | Environment | Radioactivity | Nuclear energy
PUBLICATION - SOIL JOURNAL
Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in March 2011, the Japanese authorities decided to carry out major decontamination works in the affected area, which covers more than 9,000 km2. On December 12, 2019, with most of this work having been completed, the scientific journal SOIL of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) is publishing a synthesis of approximately sixty scientific publications that together provide an overview of the decontamination strategies used and their effectiveness, with a focus on radiocesium. This work is the result of an international collaboration led by Olivier Evrard, researcher at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement [Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences] (LSCE - CEA/CNRS/UVSQ).
This synthesis focuses mainly on the fate of radioactive cesium in the environment because this radioisotope was emitted in large quantities during the accident, contaminating an area of more than 9,000 km2. In addition, since one of the cesium isotopes (137Cs) has a half-life of 30 years, it constitutes the highest risk to the local population in the medium and long term, as it can be estimated that in the absence of decontamination it will remain in the environment for around three centuries. "The feedback on decontamination processes following the Fukushima nuclear accident is unprecedented, according to Olivier Evrard, because it is the first time that such a major clean-up effort has been made following a nuclear accident. The Fukushima accident gives us valuable insights into the effectiveness of decontamination techniques, particularly for removing cesium from the environment".
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.