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Artificial Radionuclides in the Sea of Japan


Mathematical Modeling and Experimental Measurements of Distribution Artificial Radionuclides in the Sea of Japan in a Spring Season

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Far Eastern Regional Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Russia, Primorsky reg., Vladivostok

Supporting institutes

  • MIFI, Russia, Moscow


  • Hokkaido University / Institute of Low Temperature Science, Japan, Sapporo

Project summary

The Project aim

The purpose of the project is to study artificial radionuclide distribution both features of structure and dynamics of waters in the Sea of Japan in a spring season.

Current status

The information on a damp of considerable quantity radioactive waste in the Far East seas by former Soviet Union and Russian Federation for the first time was published in the “White Book” (Materials for a Report by the Government Commission on Matters Related to Radioactive Waste Disposal at Sea, Created by Decree № 613 of Russian Federation President, October 24, 1992). In 1994 and 1995 as a result of joint efforts of governments of Japan, Korea and the Russian Federation were organized and carried out the joint scientific expeditions to places of a damp of radioactive waste. The detailed analysis of the samples of the sea water, bottom sediment, zooplancton and benthos obtained in the expeditions, and also subsequent discussion and generalization of the received results have specified the necessity of the further monitoring of the radioactive pollution of the sea environment.

For the resolve of the tasks more detailed study of the radioactive pollution of the Sea of Japan waters by FERHRI, by Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) and by Research Institute for Applied Mechanics (RIAM) Kyushu University were organized and carried out four joint expeditions in 1999-2002 on the FERHRI vessel “Professor Khromov” within the framework of the ISTC projects.

The purpose of the projects was to study the radionuclides migration and their influence on the sea environment for forecasting a radiating situation and estimation of the possible ecological consequences.

The programs of the expedition’s researches have foreseen of the sea water and bottom sediment sampling for the radiochemical analyses in the main basin of the Sea of Japan – Japanese and Yamato – in a summer season.

For study of interrelation of behavior of the radionuclides with dynamics and structure of the waters of the researched areas the accompanying oceanographic observations with measurement of hydrophysical and hydrochemical parameters of the sea water was planned.

On some expeditions executed in 1999-2002 in the summer period, were fixed increased activity of plutonium on a sea surface. The possible reason of that could be winter convection, that makes “ventilation” of the whole water column from the surface to the bottom, and therefore radionuclides from the bottom layer can be transported to the surface and included into the food chain. This is the real threat for the population of the countries surrounding the Sea of Japan. In order to test this hypothesis the second cycle of researches of radioactive pollution was carried out in 2005-2007 within the framework of the ISTC project № 2886, having the name “Distribution of artificial radionuclides and winter convection in the Sea of Japan”.

The expeditions were carried out on the FERHRI vessel “Pavel Gordienko” in the areas of radionuclide waste dumping to the south from Peter the Great Bay and in the northeast part of the Sea of Japan in the end of the winter period (February - March), thus, having captured the zones of possible winter convection formation.

The project’ influence on progress in this area

As the researches of the hydrological mode and condition of pollution of the sea environment in the deep-water areas of the seas, which have undergone to anthropogenesis influence as dumps various harmful wastes, are carried out irregularly, knowledge of the processes occurring in this sphere remain insufficiently clear and complete and require the further deepening.

For the resolve of this task it is necessary to performance the oceanographic, radiochemical and ecological researches in the areas of underwater potentially dangerous objects on a regular basis.

With this purpose the realization of the expeditions for obtain of the natural data on activity and distribution radionuclides in interrelation with structure and dynamics of waters in the spring period within three years in the same areas of the Sea of Japan, where the previous researches were carried out, is offered (Fig. 1).

Using the data of the experimental measurements of the radionuclides contents in the Sea of Japan the mathematical modeling of the radionuclides distribution in the sea water will be carried out.

The participants’ expertise

Project participants are professionally involved in marine radioactivity studies and research on the Japan Sea oceanography and hydrometeorology for more than 20 years. They have published more than 100 articles and books on these issues.

Expected results and their application

As a result of project implementation, the following primary data will be obtained:

  • Data on activities of strontium, cesium and some other radionuclides in sea water and bottom sediments in the deep basins of the Sea of.
  • Data on radionuclide origin in the sea water and bottom sediments.
  • Information on physical and chemical characteristics and water circulation in the areas adjacent to radioactive waste dumping sites.

These results could be used in both fundamental and applied research.

In fundamental research, the project results will complement the historical oceanographic data and will allow to reveal the detailed features of water structure and circulation in the deep basins of the Japan Sea during the active winter convection. Based on the data of horizontal and vertical water movements, the behavior of pollutants (including radionuclides) in the marine environment during winter convection will be studied. Migration of radionuclides in the marine environment, their accumulation in bottom sediments and effects to marine biota will be investigated. Large volume of the experimental measurements data in the Sea of Japan will enable to carry out mathematical modeling of distribution of the radionuclides in the sea water.

In applied research, the project results can be used in technologies related to the safe disposal of dangerous wastes. In order to decide on possibility of safe disposal of dangerous wastes in deep sea basins, estimation of marine environment effects (including potential effects to marine animals which are used commercially) is needed. The necessary measures to prevent negative consequences of such disposal also can be elucidated.

Meeting the ISTC goals and objectives

  • The scientists earlier connected with the weapon are participating in the project.
  • As a result of the project performance ecological conditions at the places of a damp of radioactive waste in the northwest part of the Sea of Japan will be determined.

Scope of activities

The project goals will be achieved by implementing the marine expeditions and analyzing the results and data in shore laboratories.

The program of the marine expeditions include observations along oceanographic sections to the south from Peter the Great Bay, sampling of seawater and bottom sediments in the northwestern part of the Japan basin.

Duration of each cruise will be 11 days, total number of stations is about 50. The selection of the sea water and bottom sediments for the radiochemical analyses is planned to make in the point with coordinates 41 15 N, 132 18 E.

Estimated time for analysis and report preparation is about eight months.

Role of Foreign Collaborators/Partners

ILTS – participates in analysis of oceanographic data, and participates in discussion of the results and data interpretation.

Technical approach and methodology

The measurement of physical parameters of the sea water from the surface to the bottom at each station will be carried out with the help of the CTD-probe.

For sampling of the sea water from near bottom layers (100-150 m from bottom), surface and intermediate horizons (200, 1000, 2000 and 3000 m) will be used special large volume sampler (400 l). The bottom sediment samples will be taken by the grab sampler “Ocean – 50”. For radioactivity measurements, surface layer (about 3 cm) and subsurface layer of bottom sediments will be used. Samples will be preserved or processed as required before analysis in shore laboratories.

After the expeditions, the all-round and detailed measurements of radionuclide activities in seawater and bottom sediment samples will be performed in shore laboratories as well as analysis of oceanographic data.

During the expeditions and subsequent coastal analyses the same methods and equipment will be used, as within the previous researches.


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