Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

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LBNL and JAEA Reach Nuclear-Energy-Related Agreement

Sources: Jens Birkholzer, Susan Hubbard, & Dan Hawkes

On March 13, 2014, LBNL and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) reached a long-term agreement to collaborate on developing methodologies for evaluating  the impact of geologic disposal on the living, surface environment, and on developing environmental safety science--starting in the summer of 2014.

Contaminated topsoils have been removed from many areas in the Fukushima area, leaving a ‘terraced’ appearance to the landscape

As noted in a press statement released in Japan, JAEA has collaborated with DOE-LBNL (and specifically the Earth Sciences Division, ESD, within LBNL) since 2008 in “developing numerical modeling approaches for predicting radionuclide migration in groundwater flow through rock formations.” This new agreement expands the scope of collaborations to include the prediction of radionuclide transport in the surface environment (e.g., river and surface water, soil, air) after radionuclides reach the ground surface from the subsurface. This research is also expected to contribute to the R&D activities related to environmental remediation and decommissioning after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident.

JAEA also expressed the hope that this collaboration would “create a framework for young scientists and students to get involved, which would contribute significantly to raising next-generation scientists who have international perspectives.”

The agreement culminated a successful trip to Japan by a group of 10 LBNL-UC Berkeley scientists, to attend a workshop in Tokyo and Fukushima City and make a one-day field trip to the contaminated areas, including the site of the Fukushima Daichii power plant and a visit to several villages devastated by the tsunami. The last day of the workshop coincided with the three-year anniversary of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Japan; the workshop was stopped at 2:46 pm for a moment of silence to commemorate the disaster victims.


Example of the tsunami devastation on the eastern coast of Japan


The LBNL contingent included a number of ESD scientists, including Division Director Susan Hubbard, Deputy Division Director Jens Birkholzer, Ken Williams, Peter Nico, Carl Steefel, Ian Bourg, and Joonhong Ahn. Also included in the group were David Shuh and Rebecca Abergel from the Chemical Sciences Division, and Kai Vetter from the Nuclear Science Division. Vetter is the lead of the new Radiological Resilience Initiative that is emerging from LBNL and UC Berkeley. Ahn and Vetter also have appointments in the Nuclear Engineering Department at UC Berkeley.


JAEA and LBNL scientists announced the initiation of a collaboration on the third year anniversary of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Tsunami disaster