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Restoring areas after a radioactive fallout : A multidisciplinary study on decontamination

Rääf, Christopher LU ; Martinsson, Johan LU ; Eriksson, Mats ; Ewald, Jens ; Javid, Reza G. ; Hjellström, Martin ; Isaksson, Mats ; Rasmussen, Joel ; Sterner, Thomas and Finck, Robert LU (2023) In Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 270.
Abstract

Land remediation is an important part of restoration measures after a radioactive fallout containing long-lived fission products such as 137Cs. In this multidisciplinary study, we focused on three main issues related to remediation of contaminated urban areas. First, we assessed how much decontamination contributes to reducing resident radiation exposure and how much this reduction depends on the timing of implemented measures. Second, we calculated direct and indirect costs of decontamination in an industrialized country such as Sweden. Finally, in a survey study, we considered reactions of Swedish citizens to being given the hypothetical option of moving to a site decontaminated after radioactive fallout and how this... (More)

Land remediation is an important part of restoration measures after a radioactive fallout containing long-lived fission products such as 137Cs. In this multidisciplinary study, we focused on three main issues related to remediation of contaminated urban areas. First, we assessed how much decontamination contributes to reducing resident radiation exposure and how much this reduction depends on the timing of implemented measures. Second, we calculated direct and indirect costs of decontamination in an industrialized country such as Sweden. Finally, in a survey study, we considered reactions of Swedish citizens to being given the hypothetical option of moving to a site decontaminated after radioactive fallout and how this predicted response might influence the design of contingency plans. The main findings are that clean-up operations must be done within the first few years after a fallout to contribute significantly to reducing residual dose. If conducted within 1–2 years, large-scale decontamination can, on average, avert 20–200 manSv per km2 residential area and unit ground deposition of 137Cs (1 MBq). The estimated direct costs (in 2020 purchasing power) would amount to 100 million Euro per km2 decontaminated residential area (comparable to Japanese estimates after the Fukushima accident), generating 39,000 m3 of radioactive waste on average, mainly in the form of 137Cs-contaminated topsoil. In our survey study of 2291 Swedish respondents about their willingness to return to decontaminated homes, women, families with resident children, and high-income earners exhibited more skepticism about returning, even if authorities were to deem it safe. The demographic pattern in attitudes was similar to that found among evacuees in the Fukushima prefecture after 2011. We conclude that predefined ranges of measured 137Cs ground deposition can be used as guidance for rescue leaders in the early post-accident phase in long-term planning for affected areas. This planning should include timing and intensity of decontamination measures, duration of evacuation, and risk communication to citizens. Because some citizens expressed both high risk perception and risk aversion, however, timely and dialogic communication is unlikely to limit a shift after the incident to an older and more male-dominated population composition. There is a risk that those who can afford to do so will move away, whereas people whose wealth is locked in property (houses or businesses) will feel stuck. Perceptions of unfairness may fray the social fabric and complicate resettlement, which in some cases may mean inefficient outlay of decontamination costs. We believe that the issue of monetary compensation to affected residents requires priority in future work.

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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Cost-benefit, Decontamination, Radiation emergency preparedness, Restoration of radioactively contaminated land, Socioeconomic effects
in
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
volume
270
article number
107268
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:85168001924
  • pmid:37597467
ISSN
0265-931X
DOI
10.1016/j.jenvrad.2023.107268
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
fc50e9cc-9f19-4a08-9687-7c77f533955d
date added to LUP
2023-09-15 12:36:35
date last changed
2024-06-14 06:02:11
@article{fc50e9cc-9f19-4a08-9687-7c77f533955d,
  abstract     = {{<p>Land remediation is an important part of restoration measures after a radioactive fallout containing long-lived fission products such as <sup>137</sup>Cs. In this multidisciplinary study, we focused on three main issues related to remediation of contaminated urban areas. First, we assessed how much decontamination contributes to reducing resident radiation exposure and how much this reduction depends on the timing of implemented measures. Second, we calculated direct and indirect costs of decontamination in an industrialized country such as Sweden. Finally, in a survey study, we considered reactions of Swedish citizens to being given the hypothetical option of moving to a site decontaminated after radioactive fallout and how this predicted response might influence the design of contingency plans. The main findings are that clean-up operations must be done within the first few years after a fallout to contribute significantly to reducing residual dose. If conducted within 1–2 years, large-scale decontamination can, on average, avert 20–200 manSv per km<sup>2</sup> residential area and unit ground deposition of <sup>137</sup>Cs (1 MBq). The estimated direct costs (in 2020 purchasing power) would amount to 100 million Euro per km<sup>2</sup> decontaminated residential area (comparable to Japanese estimates after the Fukushima accident), generating 39,000 m<sup>3</sup> of radioactive waste on average, mainly in the form of <sup>137</sup>Cs-contaminated topsoil. In our survey study of 2291 Swedish respondents about their willingness to return to decontaminated homes, women, families with resident children, and high-income earners exhibited more skepticism about returning, even if authorities were to deem it safe. The demographic pattern in attitudes was similar to that found among evacuees in the Fukushima prefecture after 2011. We conclude that predefined ranges of measured <sup>137</sup>Cs ground deposition can be used as guidance for rescue leaders in the early post-accident phase in long-term planning for affected areas. This planning should include timing and intensity of decontamination measures, duration of evacuation, and risk communication to citizens. Because some citizens expressed both high risk perception and risk aversion, however, timely and dialogic communication is unlikely to limit a shift after the incident to an older and more male-dominated population composition. There is a risk that those who can afford to do so will move away, whereas people whose wealth is locked in property (houses or businesses) will feel stuck. Perceptions of unfairness may fray the social fabric and complicate resettlement, which in some cases may mean inefficient outlay of decontamination costs. We believe that the issue of monetary compensation to affected residents requires priority in future work.</p>}},
  author       = {{Rääf, Christopher and Martinsson, Johan and Eriksson, Mats and Ewald, Jens and Javid, Reza G. and Hjellström, Martin and Isaksson, Mats and Rasmussen, Joel and Sterner, Thomas and Finck, Robert}},
  issn         = {{0265-931X}},
  keywords     = {{Cost-benefit; Decontamination; Radiation emergency preparedness; Restoration of radioactively contaminated land; Socioeconomic effects}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  publisher    = {{Elsevier}},
  series       = {{Journal of Environmental Radioactivity}},
  title        = {{Restoring areas after a radioactive fallout : A multidisciplinary study on decontamination}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2023.107268}},
  doi          = {{10.1016/j.jenvrad.2023.107268}},
  volume       = {{270}},
  year         = {{2023}},
}