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Report No.
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Volatilization of B$$_{4}$$C control rods in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors during meltdown; B-Li isotopic signatures in cesium-rich microparticles

Fueda, Kazuki*; Takami, Ryu*; Minomo, Kenta*; Morooka, Kazuya*; Horie, Kenji*; Takehara, Mami*; Yamasaki, Shinya*; Saito, Takumi*; Shiotsu, Hiroyuki  ; Onuki, Toshihiko*; Law, G. T. W.*; Grambow, B.*; Ewing, R. C.*; Utsunomiya, Satoshi*

Boron carbide control rods remain in the fuel debris of the damaged reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, potentially preventing re-criticality; however, the state and stability of the control rods remain unknown. Sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe analyses have revealed B-Li isotopic signatures in radioactive Cs-rich microparticles (CsMPs) that formed by volatilization and condensation of Si-oxides during the meltdowns. The CsMPs contain 1518-6733 mg kg$$^{-1}$$ of $$^{10+11}$$B and 11.99-1213 mg kg$$^{-1}$$ of Li. The $$^{11}$$B/$$^{10}$$B (4.15-4.21) and $$^{7}$$Li/$$^{6}$$Li (213-406) isotopic ratios are greater than natural abundances ($$sim$$4.05 and $$sim$$12.5, respectively), indicating that $$^{10}$$B(n,$$alpha$$)$$^{7}$$Li reactions occurred in B$$_{4}$$C prior to the meltdowns. The total amount of B released with CsMPs was estimated to be 0.024-62 g, suggesting that essentially all B remains in reactor Units 2 and/or 3 and is enough to prevent re-criticality; however, the heterogeneous distribution of B needs to be considered during decommissioning.

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