Radiocesium discharge from paddy fields with different initial scrapings for decontamination after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident
To explore the behavior of radionuclides released after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident in March 2011, and the distribution of radiocesium in paddy fields, we monitored radiocesium (Cs) and suspended sediment (SS) discharge from paddy fields. We proposed a rating scale for measuring the effectiveness of surface soil removal. Our experimental plots in paddy fields were located ∼40 km from the FDNPP. Two plots were established: one in a paddy field where surface soil was not removed (the “normally cultivated paddy field”) and the second in a paddy field where the top 5–10 cm of soil was removed before cultivation (the “surface-removed paddy field”). The amounts of Cs and SS discharge from the paddy fields were continuously measured from June to August 2011. The Cs soil inventory measured 3 months after the FDNPP accident was approximately 200 kBq m−2. However, after removing the surface soil, the concentration of Cs-137 decreased to 5 kBq m−2. SS discharged from the normally cultivated and surface-removed paddy fields after puddling (mixing of soil and water before planting rice) was 11.0 kg and 3.1 kg, respectively, and Cs-137 discharge was 630 000 Bq (1240 Bq m−2) and 24 800 Bq (47.8 Bq m−2), respectively. The total amount of SS discharge after irrigation (natural rainfall-runoff) was 5.5 kg for the normally cultivated field and 70 kg for the surface-removed field, and the total amounts of Cs-137 discharge were 51 900 Bq (102 Bq m−2) and 165 000 Bq (317 Bq m−2), respectively. During the irrigation period, discharge from the surface-removed plot showed a twofold greater inflow than that from the normally cultivated plot. Thus, Cs inflow may originate from the upper canal. The topsoil removal process eliminated at least approximately 95% of the Cs-137, but upstream water contaminated with Cs-137 flowed into the paddy field. Therefore, to accurately determine the Cs discharge, it is important to examine Cs inflow from the upper channel. Furthermore, puddling and irrigation processes inhibit the discharge of radiocesium downstream. This indicates that water control in paddy fields is an important process in the prevention of river pollution and radionuclide transfer.