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Development of an ${it in-situ}$ continuous air monitor for the measurement of highly radioactive alpha-emitting particulates ($$alpha$$-aerosols) under high humidity environment

Tsubota, Yoichi   ; Honda, Fumiya; Tokonami, Shinji*; Tamakuma, Yuki*; Nakagawa, Takahiro ; Ikeda, Atsushi  

In the long-lasting decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (1F), the dismantling of nuclear fuel debris (NFD) remaining in the damaged reactors is an unavoidable but significant issue with many technical difficulties. The dismantling is presumed to involve mechanical cutting, generating significant concentrations of particulates containing $$alpha$$-radionuclides ($$alpha$$-aerosols) that pose significant health risk upon inhalation. In order to minimize the radiation exposure of workers with $$alpha$$-aerosols during the dismantling/decommissioning process at 1F, it is essential to monitor the concentration of $$alpha$$-aerosols at the point of initial generation, i.e. inside the primary containment vessels (PCV) of the damaged reactors. Toward this end, an ${it in situ}$ monitoring system for $$alpha$$-aerosols (${it in situ}$ alpha air monitor: IAAM) was developed and its technical performance was investigated under the conditions expected for the actual environments at 1F. IAAM was confirmed to fulfill four technical requirements: (1) steady operation under high humidity, (2) operation without using filters, (3) capability of measuring a high counting rate of $$alpha$$-radiation, and (4) selective measurement of $$alpha$$-radiation even under high radiation background with $$beta$$/$$gamma$$-rays. IAAM is capable of selectively measuring $$alpha$$-aerosols with a concentration of 3.3 $$times$$ 10$$^{2}$$ Bq/cm$$^{3}$$ or higher without saturation under a high humid environment (100%-relative humidity) and under high background with $$beta$$/$$gamma$$-radiation (up to 100 mSv/h of $$gamma$$-radiation). These results demonstrate promising potential of IAAM to be utilized as a reliable monitoring system for $$alpha$$-aerosols during the dismantling of NFD, as well as the whole long-lasting decommissioning of 1F.

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