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UK, Japan scientists study radioactive Fukushima particles via Reuters

OXFORD, England (Reuters) – Eight years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan, radioactive particles collected from the site are undergoing new forensic investigation in Britain in an effort to understand the exact sequence of events.

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The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) is currently collaborating with British researchers to learn more about the state of the radioactive particles created by the meltdown.

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Dr Yukihiko Satou from the JAEA oversaw the transportation of particles collected from within the restricted zone, very close to the disaster site, to Britain. 

“The particles were fundamentally extracted from those attached to soil, dust and debris,” Satou told Reuters. 
Encased in protective tape, the samples were brought to the Diamond Light Source, Britain’s national synchrotron, or cyclic particle accelerator, near Oxford. 

Here electrons are accelerated to near light speeds until they emit light 10 billion times brighter than the sun, then directed into laboratories in ‘beamlines’ which allow scientists to study minute specimens in extreme detail. 

Researchers have created a 3D map of a radioactive sample using the synchrotron, allowing them to see the distribution of elements within the sample. 

Understanding the current state of these particles and how they behave in the environment could ultimately determine if and when the area could be declared safe for people to return.

The head of the team leading the analysis, Tom Scott of Bristol University, said the particles have a structure like a pumice, a very light, porous volcanic rock.

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