Controls on anthropogenic radionuclide distribution in the Sellafield-impacted Eastern Irish Sea

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Ray , D , Leary , P , Livens , F , Gray , N , Morris , K , Law , K A , Fuller , A J , Abrahamsen-Mills , L , Howe , J , Tierney , K , Muir , G & Law , G T W 2020 , ' Controls on anthropogenic radionuclide distribution in the Sellafield-impacted Eastern Irish Sea ' , The Science of the Total Environment , vol. 743 , 140765 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140765

Title: Controls on anthropogenic radionuclide distribution in the Sellafield-impacted Eastern Irish Sea
Author: Ray, Daisy; Leary, Peter; Livens, Francis; Gray, Neil; Morris, Katherine; Law, Kathleen A.; Fuller, Adam J.; Abrahamsen-Mills, Liam; Howe, John; Tierney, Kieran; Muir, Graham; Law, Gareth T.W.
Other contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Chemistry
Date: 2020-11-15
Language: eng
Number of pages: 14
Belongs to series: The Science of the Total Environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140765
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/318385
Abstract: Understanding anthropogenic radionuclide biogeochemistry and mobility in natural systems is key to improving the management of radioactively contaminated environments and radioactive wastes. Here, we describe the contemporary depth distribution and phase partitioning of 137Cs, Pu, and 241Am in two sediment cores taken from the Irish Sea (Site 1: the Irish Sea Mudpatch; Site 2: the Esk Estuary). Both sites are located ~10 km from the Sellafield nuclear site. Low-level aqueous radioactive waste has been discharged from the Sellafield site into the Irish Sea for >50 y. We compare the depth distribution of the radionuclides at each site to trends in sediment and porewater redox chemistry, using trace element abundance, microbial ecology, and sequential extractions, to better understand the relative importance of sediment biogeochemistry vs. physical controls on radionuclide distribution/post-depositional mobility in the sediments. We highlight that the distribution of 137Cs, Pu, and 241Am at both sites is largely controlled by physical mixing of the sediments, physical transport processes, and sediment accumulation. Interestingly, at the Esk Estuary, microbially-mediated redox processes (considered for Pu) do not appear to offer significant controls on Pu distribution, even over decadal timescales. We also highlight that the Irish Sea Mudpatch likely still acts as a source of historical pollution to other areas in the Irish Sea, despite ever decreasing levels of waste output from the Sellafield site.
Subject: ADSORPTION
ARTIFICIAL RADIONUCLIDES
Americium
Cesium
ESTUARINE SEDIMENTS
Esk Estuary
INTER-TIDAL SEDIMENTS
Irish Sea
PLUTONIUM
Plutonium
SALT-MARSH
SHEWANELLA-ONEIDENSIS
SP NOV.
SURFACE SEDIMENTS
Sellafield Ltd.
WASTE RADIONUCLIDES
116 Chemical sciences
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