The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident released radiocesium in large amounts. The released radionuclides contaminated much of the surrounding environment, including sewers in urban areas of Fukushima prefecture. In this study we attempted to identify and quantify the sources of radiocesium contamination in separate sewerage systems and developed a compartment model based on the Radionuclide Migration in Urban Environments and Drainage Systems (MUD) model. Measurements of the time-dependent radiocesium concentration in sewer sludge combined with meteorological, demographic, and radiocesium dietary intake data indicated that rainfall-derived inflow and infiltration (RDII) and human excretion were the chief contributors of radiocesium contamination in a separate sewerage system. The quantities of contamination derived from RDII and human excretion were calculated and used in the modified MUD model to simulate radiocesium contamination in sewers in three urban areas in Fukushima prefecture: Fukushima, Koriyama, and Nihonmatsu Cities. The Nash efficiency coefficient (0.88–0.92) and determination coefficient (0.89–0.93) calculated in an evaluation of our compartment model indicated that the model produced satisfactory results. We also used the model to estimate the total volume of sludge with radiocesium concentrations in excess of the clearance level, based on the number of months elapsed after the accident. Estimations by our model suggested that wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Fukushima, Koriyama, and Nihonmatsu generated about 1,750,000 m3 of radioactive sludge in total, a level in good agreement with the real data.
- Separated sewer