Uranium shows relatively conservative behaviour in seawater because of the formation of stable carbonato complexes, whereas particulate uranium, involved in suspended particles with the particle size of more than 0.45 m, is a minor constituent. It was found that particulate uranium, with a range from 0.24 to 39 Bq·1–1, varies spatially and temporally. Its highest concentration occurs in the tropical region of the western North Pacific during the winter of 1983, corresponding to the 1983 El Nifio event. A leaching experiment revealed that major species of particulate uranium are labile organic complexes. Mass balance considerations suggest that particulate uranium in open ocean waters correlates with the presence of particulate organic matter (POM). A high peak of particulate uranium in 1983 may indicate that POM, i.e., primary productivity, increased in the western tropical Pacific during the El Niño event.
Plutonium isotope concentrations in the surface air at Tsukuba, Japan are reported during the period from 1981 to the end of 1986. The239,240Pu concentration in the surface air, which showed a marked seasonal variation with a spring maximum and fall minimum, decreased until the end of 1985 according to the stratospheric residence time of 1.15 years. In May 1986, elevated239,240Pu concentrations with high238Pu/239,240Pu activity ratios were observed. The serial trend of plutonium concentration in the surface air is similar to the concentrations of the Chernobyl-released radionuclides. These findings suggest that a significant part of the plutonium in the surface air in May 1986 was due to the Chernobyl fallout. The size distribution of plutonium bearing particles indicates that plutonium isotopes were mechanically released in the Chernobyl accident. The surface air concentration of plutonium from the Chernobyl accident was much lower than the concentrations of the volatile fission products, and increased the monthly mean239,240Pu concentration by only 0.03 Bqm–3.
A new method of plutonium speciation in large volume of sea water was developed by using adsorption of Pu(IV)-Xylenol Orange chelate and Pu-Arsenazo chelate on XAD-2 resin, respectively. The tetravalent plutonium ion reacts selectively with Xylenol Orange in acid solution and that adsorbed on XAD-2 resin. Total plutonium can be collected onto the resin in the form of its Arsenazo-III complex. The determination of plutonium then was carried out by alpha-ray spectrometric method after decomposition of organic complexes and ion exchange separation. The present method is confirmed for convenient and rapid preconcentration procedure for plutonium shipboard chemistry.
Concentrations of cesium isotopes and plutonium in river water samples in Japan, collected during the period from June 1985 to February 1987, have been measured. The total137Cs concentrations in the Japanese river waters ranged from 0.063 to 1.89 mBq·l–1. The portion of particulate137Cs to total was observed to be less than 10 to 35%. The total239,240Pu concentrations ranged from 0.56 to 1.93 Bq·l–1. Particulate239,240Pu occupied 13 to 95% of the total. After the Chernobyl fallout, elevated137Cs concentrations were observed in the Japanese river waters as well as the detection of134Cs, whereas there was no effect on the river plutonium from the Chernobyl fallout. The partition coefficients of137Cs and plutonium between suspended particulate and dissolved phases in the Japanese rivers were determined: from 1.0·104 to 3.2·105 and from 4.1·104 to 2.3·106 for137Cs and plutonium, respectively. The result suggests that these radionuclides, especially plutonium, are tightly associated with soil particles and/or suspended matter.
The wet and dry deposition of gamma-emitting nuclides are presented for Tsukuba and eleven stations in Japan following the nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl'. In Japan fallout from the reactor at Chernobyl' was first detected on May 3, 1986, a week after the accident. Abruptly high radioactive deposition, which mainly consists of131I,132I,103Ru,137Cs and134Cs, was observed in early May. The cumulative amount of131I,103Ru and137Cs in May at Tsukuba were 5854±838 Bq·m–2, 364±54 Bq·m–2 and 130±26 Bq·m–2 (decay was corrected to April 26), respectively. The monthly137Cs deposition in May corresponds to 2.5% of the cumulative137Cs deposition during the period from 1960 through 1982. Most of the Chernobyl' radioactivities, especially131I, are scavenged from the atmosphere by the wet removal process.