Tottori University and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency carried out jointly the feasibility study on phytoremediation techniques, which apply to soil contaminated by the TEPCO’s Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP accident. This paper illustrates the results from experimental investigations. Experimental investigations include both water-culture tests and field tests.
Several plants, mainly halophytes that can specifically absorb more Na than K, and others like sunflower demonstrated for other domestic large-scale tests, were water-cultured and examined for screening. Easily cultivated and harvested plants without harmful effects on subsequent cultivation were also considered. New Zealand spinach was selected as a candidate for demonstrations in fields.
The field tests were carried out at two sites of different agricultural types in Minami-soma, Fukushima prefecture. Concentration of 137Cs in soil is about 4.5 Bq/g-dry as the average of 10 cm depth. The aims of the field tests are to confirm absorption ability and environmental adaptation of the test plants and to document the cost and performance of projects. In conclusion, the absorption of 137Cs activity per unit area (Bq/m2) by New Zealand spinach could be approximately 0.5%.
To achieve an effective result in removal of 137Cs from soil in around a decade, it is required to find the plant which has ten or more times higher absorption capacity than New Zealand spinach. From the consistency of both results in water-culture and field tests, the water-culture test can be valid for screening. In addition, applicable sites will be limited to fields which are too steep or too narrow to use mechanical diggers, and which are free from any restrictions to enter.