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Enhanced Analysis Methods to Derive the Spatial Distribution of 131I Deposition on the Ground by Airborne Surveys at an Early Stage after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident

Torii, Tatsuo; Sugita, Takeshi; Okada, Colin E.; Reed, Michael S.; Blumenthal, Daniel J.

doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e318294444e

This paper applies both new and well tested analysis methods to aerial radiological surveys to extract the 131I ground concentrations present after the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) accident. The analysis provides a complete map of 131I deposition, an important quantity incalculable at the time of the accident due to the short half-life of 131I and the complexity of the analysis. A map of 131I deposition is the first step in conducting internal exposure assessments, population dose reconstruction, and follow-up epidemiological studies. The short half-life of 131I necessitates the use of aerial radiological surveys to cover the large area quickly, thoroughly, and safely. Teams from the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) performed aerial radiological surveys to provide initial maps of the dispersal of radioactive material in Japan. This work reports on analyses performed on a subset of the initial survey data by a joint Japan-U.S. collaboration to determine 131I ground concentrations. The analytical results show a high concentration of 131I northwest of the NPP, consistent with the previously reported radioactive cesium deposition, but also shows a significant 131I concentration south of the plant, which was not observed in the original cesium analysis. The difference in the radioactive iodine and cesium patterns is possibly the result of differences in the ways these materials settle out of the air.

*Fukushima Environmental Safety Center, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Tokyo, Japan; †Present address: Science & System Laboratory, Inc., Kasama, Ibaraki, Japan; ‡U.S. Department of Energy/Remote Sensing Laboratory, Las Vegas, NV; §U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration, Washington, DC.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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For correspondence contact: Tatsuo Torii, JAEA at 2-2-2 Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8577 Japan, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 26 March 2013)

© 2013 by the Health Physics Society