Provenance of uranium particulate contained within Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 ejecta material

Nat Commun. 2019 Jun 26;10(1):2801. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10937-z.


Here we report the results of multiple analytical techniques on sub-mm particulate material derived from Unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to provide a better understanding of the events that occurred and the environmental legacy. Through combined x-ray fluorescence and absorption contrast micro-focused x-ray tomography, entrapped U particulate are observed to exist around the exterior circumference of the highly porous Si-based particle. Further synchrotron radiation analysis of a number of these entrapped particles shows them to exist as UO2-identical to reactor fuel, with confirmation of their nuclear origin shown via mass spectrometry analysis. While unlikely to represent an environmental or health hazard, such assertions would likely change should break-up of the Si-containing bulk particle occur. However, more important to the long-term decommissioning of the reactors at the FDNPP (and environmental clean-upon), is the knowledge that core integrity of reactor Unit 1 was compromised with nuclear material existing outside of the reactors primary containment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't