Tracking the Fukushima Radionuclides

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Science  01 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6085, pp. 1115-1116
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219493

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On 11 March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) lost cooling capability during the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and the subsequent tsunami (1). The incident led to severe damage of the plant and the release of large amounts of radionuclides to the environment. Local contamination still prevents over 100,000 residents from returning to their homes. Detailed maps are beginning to provide a picture of the contamination patterns (see the first figure), but as radionuclides migrate and diffuse through the environment (see the second figure), continual monitoring is required to guide remediation and ensure human safety.