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Gamma spectrum of Fukushima soil

Dear Reader,

In case you want to look at a gamma spectrum for the soil from about 20 km from the Fukushima site then I suggest you look at the paper published by Keiko Tagami, Shigeo Uchida, Yukio Uchihori, Nobuyoshi Ishii, Hisashi Kitamura and Yoshiyuki Shirakawa, Science of the Total Environment, 2011, volume 409, pages 4885 to 4888.

The paper concludes that the only isotopes released from the plant were noble gases and volatile elements such as I, Te and Cs. The isotopes detected in large amounts were I-131, Te-129m, Cs-134, Cs-136 and Cs-137. Very small traces of Nb-95, Ag-110m and La-140 were detected but these levels were too low for measurement.

No Zr-95, Ru-103 or Ru-106 was detected which suggests that it is very unlikely that a large scale release of plutonium has occurred. If anyone suggests to you that plutonium has been released in large amounts then bear in mind that Zr-95 is a good mimic for plutonium in nuclear fuel. It forms a dioxide and a Perovskite SrZrO3 both of which are very similar to the plutonium dioxide in their boiling points and water solubilities. If a large scale plutonium release was to occur from a nuclear power plant accident then I would expect zirconium-95 to be found in the same places as the plutonium. The zirconium-95 is much more easy to find as it is a strong gamma emitter while plutonium is only a weak gamma emitter.

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