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Investigation of the technological enhancement of natural decay series radionuclides by the manufacture of phosphates on the Cumbrian coast

Keating, G E and McCartney, M and Davidson, C M (1996) Investigation of the technological enhancement of natural decay series radionuclides by the manufacture of phosphates on the Cumbrian coast. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 32 (1-2). pp. 53-66. ISSN 0265-931X

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the response of the aquatic environment following the cessation of discharges from a phosphate-ore processing plant, situated at Whitehaven, northwest England. A preliminary survey was carried out to determine Po-210, Pb-210 and U-238 activities in intertidal biota and sediment in the vicinity of the plant in November 1992. The maximum concentrations observed in the samples are all above the reported natural ranges and are clearly indicative of technological enhancement. The highest Po-210 (7749 +/- 201 Bq kg(-1) dry weight) and U-238 (390 +/- 12 Bq kg(-1) dry weight) activities were found in the sediment collected from Whitehaven Harbour, the sampling site closest to the outfall pipe. At all sites, with the exception of Whitehaven itself, Po-210 levels in mussels were greater than winkles, which, in turn, were greater than levels in sediments which exceeded the levels observed in seaweed. Uranium levels were found to be greatest in sediment, while the rest of the sample types exhibited similar levels of activity. Initial Pb-210 results show similar levels in mussels and winkles which suggests the uptake mechanism to be different than that of Po-210. Further surveys have since been carried out at approximately 4-5-month intervals and the temporal trends obtained suggest an overall decrease in radionuclide concentrations in all sample types. Copyright (C) 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.