137Cs Trapped by Biomass within 20 km of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Akio Koizumi*†, Tamon Niisoe†, Kouji H. Harada†, Yukiko Fujii†, Ayumu Adachi†, Toshiaki Hitomi†, and Hirohiko Ishikawa*‡
† Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
‡ Research Division of Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Disasters, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Uji 611-0011, Japan
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (17), pp 9612–9618
DOI: 10.1021/es401422g
Publication Date (Web): July 26, 2013


Analysis of 137Cs trapped in biomass in highly contaminated zones is crucial in predicting the long-term fate of 137Cs following the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We surveyed forest 20–50 km from the plant in July and September 2011 to evaluate 137Cs trapped in biomass within 20 km of the plant. We determined the ambient dose rate and collected forest soils and twigs at 150 sampling points. Removability from the canopy was evaluated by washing leaves and branches with water and organic solvents. The biomass of the forest canopy was then calculated. 137Cs fallout was simulated with an atmospheric transport model. The modeled dose rate agreed with observations (n = 24) (r = 0.62; p < 0.01). Washing experiments demonstrated that unremovable portions accounted for 53.9 ± 6.4% of 137Cs trapped by deciduous canopy (n = 4) and 59.3 ± 13.8% of 137Cs trapped by evergreen canopy (n = 10). In total, it was estimated that 74.5 × 1012 Bq was trapped by canopy in the forest within the no-go zone, with 44.2 × 1012 Bq allocated to unremovable portions, and that 0.86% of the total release was trapped in biomass as of September 2011.