Soil radon (222Rn) monitoring in a forest site in Fukushima, Japan
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Soil radon (222Rn) has been monitored since August 2013 at three different soil depths on a campus forest of Fukushima University in Japan, where a large amount of fallout nuclides were released by the accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011. The primary purpose of this study is to evaluate 222Rn activity level, variability and factors controlling 222Rn concentration in soil air using data obtained from August to December 2013. Time series of 222Rn activity concentration showed depth-dependent variability with an equilibrium value (222Rneq) during this observation period; 7.5, 14 and 23 kBq m−3 at 0.3, 0.6 and 1.0 m in depth, respectively. Two typhoons passing over the site had a great influence on soil radon level, which was practically used for evaluating effective diffusion coefficient of 222Rn. Transport mechanism of 222Rn in soil air was considered to be diffusion-controlled with data sets on changing 222Rn concentration with time in selected cases that showed decreasing (or increasing) 222Rn concentration with time at every depth. Important factors affecting soil 222Rn variability are meteorological parameters, low-pressure front passing over the site, and subsequent precipitation. Time lags of decreasing 222Rn concentration at different depths after rain indicate a certain relationship of 222Rn level with moving water (and water vapor) in soil. The findings obtained in this study are important to evaluate the fate of fallout nuclides (radiocesium) in contaminated forest sites using soil radon as a tracer of moving soil air.
Keywords222Rn Soil air Monitoring Gas transportation Typhoon Fukushima
The authors thank Prof. Akira Watanabe of the Fukushima University for helping with everything necessary for them to start and continue monitoring on their campus. They greatly acknowledge Mr. Toshihiko Hatano and Mr. Masato Yamakawa of North One Co. Ltd. for preparing a special instrument of micro-barometric pressure measurement in the field. They give special thanks to Dr. Claude Bertrand at Algade (France) for his useful comments and suggestions in radon field monitoring. They appreciate Prof. Emeritus Ivan Kobal of Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia who checked the manuscript thoroughly including English grammar. This work has been supported financially by Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) on a research theme “Multidisciplinary investigation on radiocesium fate and transport for safety assessment for interim storage and disposal of heterogeneous waste” (Tamotsu KOZAKI, Hokkaido University) from 2012 to 2014.
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