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Report No.

Contamination processes of tree components in Japanese forest ecosystems affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident $$^{137}$$Cs fallout

Ota, Masakazu  ; Koarashi, Jun   

In forests affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, trees became contaminated with $$^{137}$$Cs. However, $$^{137}$$Cs transfer processes determining tree contamination (particularly for stem wood, which is a prominent commercial resource in Fukushima) remain insufficiently understood. This study proposes a model for simulating the dynamic behavior of $$^{137}$$Cs in a forest tree-litter-soil system and applied it to two contaminated forests (cedar plantation and natural oak stand) in Fukushima. The model-calculated results and inter-comparison of the results with measurements elucidated the relative impact of distinct $$^{137}$$Cs transfer processes determining tree contamination. The transfer of $$^{137}$$Cs to trees occurred mostly ($$>$$ 99%) through surface uptake of $$^{137}$$Cs directly trapped by leaves or needles and bark during the fallout. By contrast, root uptake of $$^{137}$$Cs from the soil was unsubstantial and several orders of magnitude lower than the surface uptake over a 50-year period following the accident. As a result, the internal contamination of the trees proceeded through an enduring recycling (translocation) of $$^{137}$$Cs absorbed on the tree surface at the time of the accident. A significant surface uptake of $$^{137}$$Cs at the bark was identified, contributing 100% (leafless oak tree) and 30% (foliated cedar tree; the remaining surface uptake occurred at the needles) of the total $$^{137}$$Cs uptake by trees. It was suggested that the trees growing at the study sites are currently (as of 2021) in a decontamination phase; the activity concentration of $$^{137}$$Cs in the stem wood decreases by 3% per year, mainly through radioactive decay of $$^{137}$$Cs and partly through a dilution effect from tree growth.



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Category:Environmental Sciences



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