Long-term environmental radioactive contamination of Europe due to the Chernobyl accident – Results of the Joint Danube Survey 2013

The social media team of Applied Radiation and Isotopes has selected our study on radionuclides in the sediments of the Danube river to be made available for three months as an open access publication!

The study was made possible by the Joint Danube Survey (2013) where a total of 68 samples were collected from both banks of the river, all along its length. 137Cs was measured by the team at the BEV on regular gamma-detectors. In our lab, the very patient Maria Kocadag then extracted 90Sr from the samples in a time consuming procedure (similar to published procedures [1]) and measured all samples on our liquid scintillation spectrometer.

The activities of both 137Cs and 90Sr are below 100 Bq/kg in all samples. In fact, 90Sr values were very low with only a few exception. For 137Cs we see a decrease along the length of the river from its source to its estuary.

[1] [doi] G. Steinhauser, V. Schauer, and K. Shozugawa, “Concentration of strontium-90 at selected hot spots in japan,” Plos one, vol. 8, iss. 3, p. e57760, 2013.
author = {Steinhauser, Georg and Schauer, Viktoria and Shozugawa, Katsumi},
title = {Concentration of Strontium-90 at Selected Hot Spots in Japan},
year = {2013},
volume = {8},
number = {3},
month = mar,
pages = {e57760},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0057760},
url = {},
abstract = {This study is dedicated to the environmental monitoring of radionuclides released in the course of the Fukushima nuclear accident. The activity concentrations of β− -emitting 90Sr and β−/γ-emitting 134Cs and 137Cs from several hot spots in Japan were determined in soil and vegetation samples. The 90Sr contamination levels of the samples were relatively low and did not exceed the Bq⋅g−1 range. They were up four orders of magnitude lower than the respective 137Cs levels. This study, therefore, experimentally confirms previous predictions indicating a low release of 90Sr from the Fukushima reactors, due to its low volatility. The radiocesium contamination could be clearly attributed to the Fukushima nuclear accident via its activity ratio fingerprint (134Cs/137Cs). Although the correlation between 90Sr and 137Cs is relatively weak, the data set suggests an intrinsic coexistence of both radionuclides in the contaminations caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident. This observation is of great importance not only for remediation campaigns but also for the current food monitoring campaigns, which currently rely on the assumption that the activity concentrations of β−-emitting 90Sr (which is relatively laborious to determine) is not higher than 10% of the level of γ-emitting 137Cs (which can be measured quickly). This assumption could be confirmed for the samples investigated herein.},
file = {Steinhauser2013b.pdf:Steinhauser2013b.pdf:PDF},
journal = {PLOS ONE},
publisher = {Public Library of Science},

Write a Comment