Technological development related to decommissioning
ＱWhat is a cesium ball?
ＡParticles that are glassy with a size of about 1 μm to 1 mm and contain a relatively large amount of cesium, which are difficult to dissolve in water, are called insoluble cesium particles. The cesium ball is a common name for the smaller and spherical ones. In the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, it was confirmed that this cesium ball was released during a limited period in the early stages of the accident.。
Emission of insoluble cesium (Cs) particles was detected in environmental samples collected during the early stage of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS (1F) accident. Particles with diameters of 1 µm to 1 mm were particular ejecta of the accident.
There were at least two types of particles of which the main element is silicate (Fig.1)
This silicate makes the particles insoluble in water. Type A is a few µm in diameter and contains a small amount of radioactive Cs within it. However, the concentration of Cs is so large that characteristic X-rays can be detected using energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS), which has a much higher detection limit than other methods. By contrast, Type B particles are hundreds of microns in size and can be see with the naked eye, but the concentration of Cs is lower than in Type A. The radioactivity concentration per unit volume is called the specific radioactivity, but in order to clarify the above relationship, when two kinds of particles are illustrated by the particle volume and the Cs concentration contained, the inclination of Type B is smaller than that of Type A. The results of previous studies (● and ● in Fig.2) of particles considered to have been released at the same time (midnight on March 14) as Type A also agreed with specific radioactivity relationships.
Type-B particles with low specific radioactivity were confirmed to have been released by the 1F Unit 1 reactor hydrogen explosion on March 12. Moreover, Type-B particles were deposited over a limited region north of the polluted nuclear plant immediately after the explosion took place. Observing Type B, fibrous silicate compounds were confirmed to adhere surface (Fig.3(a)). Based on this discovery, we investigated the silicate compounds used around the reactor building. The elemental composition of the heat-insulating material used inside the building and the constituent elements of Type B nearly agreed (Fig.3(b)). This result shows that cesium filled in the reactor building, adsorbed onto fibrous insulation made of silicate compounds, shrunk, spread due to the hydrogen-explosion heat and the blast, and scattered as Type-B particles into the environment. On the other hand, Type-A particles, whose generation process has many unknown features due to their high specific activity, are a subject for further study.
- Is it possible to visualize radiations? Also, is there a way to understand the situation of contamination inside the Fukushima Daiichi NPS buildings?
- How can tritium taken up by animals and plants be measured?
- What happened to the inside of the reactor pressure vessel and storage vessel after the accident?
- What information is needed to safely retrieve fuel debris?