Volume 16 (2013) Issue 2 Pages 166-170
Radionuclides were released into the environment as a consequence of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident that occurred on 11 March 2011. Radiocesium at an abnormal concentration was detected in brown rice produced in paddy fields located in northern part of Fukushima Prefecture. We examined several hypotheses that could potentially explain the excessive radiocesium level in brown rice in some of the paddy fields, including (i) low exchangeable potassium content of the soil, (ii) low sorption sites for cesium (Cs) in the soil, and (iii) radiocesium enrichment of water that is flowing into the paddy fields from surrounding forests. The results of experiments using pots with contaminated soil indicated that the concentration of radiocesium in rice plants was decreased by applying potassium or clay minerals such as zeolite and vermiculite. The obtained results indicated that high concentrations of radiocesium in rice are potentially a result of the low exchangeable potassium and sorption sites for Cs in the soils. Application of potassium fertilizer and clay minerals should provide an effective countermeasure for reducing radiocesium uptake by plants. Radiocesium-enriched water produced by leaching contaminated leaf litter was used to irrigate rice plants in the cultivation experiments. The results indicated that the radiocesium concentrations in rice plants increased when the radiocesium-enriched water was applied to the potted rice plants. This indicated the possibility that the radiocesium levels in brown rice will increase if the nuclide is transported with water into the rice paddy fields from surrounding forests.