Since 2006, IRSN and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) have been collaborating in a number of areas, particularly that of the safety of Generation IV reactors. The Fukushima Daiichi accident has prompted both partners to extend their collaboration to environmental issues.
In July 2011, a consortium of Japanese universities characterized environmental contamination within an 80 km radius of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant. This consortium was coordinated by JAEA and received support from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Together, the consortium and JAEA led a measurement campaign in which soil samples were collected and the ambient dose rate was measured at 2,200 points in the environment.
A second campaign was carried out in December 2011, in which IRSN was invited to participate. The Institute sent a seven-person expert team to Japan, equipped with a state-of-the-art array of gamma spectrometry equipment. This team meshed with the Japanese task force in place and followed locally developed measurement and sampling protocols. It participated in a series of in situ gamma spectrometry measurements taken over a 1,000 km² area and in measurements using the latest on-board gamma spectrometry technology, covering 1,000 km of roads by car in a dozen days.
The proven value of this first Franco-Japanese collaboration of its kind has led JAEA and IRSN to consider working together on future scientific projects aimed at gaining a better understanding of the impact of radionuclides on Japan’s environment and ecosystems.