IAEA Project Monitors Radioactive Release from Fukushima Accident on Asia-Pacific Marine Environment
As a result of the nuclear accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan, an enormous inventory of radioactive substances were discharged into the Pacific Ocean. The IAEA, together with the Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) Member States, immediately initiated an IAEA Technical Cooperation (TC) project for countries throughout the Pacific Ocean region to monitor radioactive substances in the marine environment.
In July 2011, the IAEA launched training events and expert missions in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident at the IAEA’s Environment Laboratory in Monaco and in Korea. The project started on 1 July 2011 and is planned to be finalized in 2015, with Review Meetings each year. Extrabudgetary funding for the project was provided by the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
At the first Annual Review Meeting, which was held in Vietnam in August 2012, predictive hydrodynamic models were demonstrated that showed how the strong oceanic Kuroshio Current and its extension transports the radioactive substances across the Pacific Ocean in an easterly direction.
Recent results of marine fish sampled near the Japanese coast show that intensive monitoring work needs to be continuously performed by the responsible authorities to guarantee seafood safety for the population and to provide a full picture of the situation.
In order to assure high-quality, reliable measurement results from the Asia-Pacific region in future, the IAEA Environment Laboratory conducted a proficiency test on analysing radionuclides in seawater. The participating laboratories received a well-defined radioactive source to be diluted into their local seawater and analysed for radionuclides typical for the Fukushima “radionuclide fingerprint pattern”.
In general, the proficiency test showed good results, but also indicated areas for improvement in radio-analytical procedures and data quality among the participating laboratories. A second proficiency test will be carried out following a regional training course on marine radio-analytical techniques to be hosted by China in 2013.