Pu concentration and isotopic composition analysis of contaminated soils from Savannah River Site, USA and Fukushima Prefecture, Japan by a Thermo XSERIES 2 Quadrupole ICP-MS and Alpha Spectroscopy
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Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and alpha spectroscopy were used to measure Plutonium (Pu) concentrations in soil samples from the Savannah River Site (SRS) and Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, the latter of which was collected after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident. The SRS in the USA contains one-third of the nation’s Pu inventory (~40 metric tons) in the contaminated soils, sediments, and groundwater through activities including nuclear materials production and radioactive waste re-processing. Soils sampled from the Fukushima prefecture contain Pu signals contributed both from atomic bomb fallout and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011. The concentrations and isotopic ratio of 239Pu and 240Pu in a sample can be used to infer the sources of Pu in the environment, thus providing precious information of Pu migration in the local region. . Pu concentrations and isotope ratios (240Pu/239Pu) in four soil cores collected from the wetland down gradient of the seepage basin in the SRS suggest the Pu source is mainly atmospheric deposition and contaminated groundwater percolation. Three types of soils (urban, paddy and deciduous) all suggest Pu contributed from the FDNPP accident is well within pre-accident background values, whereas the coniferous soil contains about three times higher concentration of Pu than background concentrations. All samples were processed and determined for Pu using both ICP-MS and alpha counting, for method comparison. Two classical resins for the separations of actinides and lanthanides (i.e., UTEVA and TEVA) were also compared to evaluate their efficiencies in removing 238U, which can form 238U1H+ to interfere with 239Pu+. In the end UTEVA resin, rather than TEVA resin, was chosen because it has an efficient separation of Pu from the high background of 238U seen in SRS surface soil, which contains abnormally high 238U released from the seepage basin, based on their different working principles and elution orders.
Johnston, Isaac L (2014). Pu concentration and isotopic composition analysis of contaminated soils from Savannah River Site, USA and Fukushima Prefecture, Japan by a Thermo XSERIES 2 Quadrupole ICP-MS and Alpha Spectroscopy. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from