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Modelling marine trophic transfer of radiocarbon (14C) from a nuclear facility

Tierney, Kieran M. and Heymans, Johanna J. and Muir, Graham K.P. and Cook, Gordon T. and Buszowski, Joe and Steenbeek, Jeroen and Walters, William J. and Christensen, Villy and MacKinnon, Gillian and Howe, John A. and Xu, Sheng (2018) Modelling marine trophic transfer of radiocarbon (14C) from a nuclear facility. Environmental Modelling and Software, 102. pp. 138-154. ISSN 1364-8152

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Abstract

Sellafield marine discharges of 14C are the largest contributor to the global collective dose from the nuclear fuel industry. As such, it is important to understand the fate of these discharges beyond the limitations and scope of empirical analytical investigations for this highly mobile radioactive contaminant. Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) is widely used to model anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems, such as fishing, although very few EwE studies have modelled the fate of bioavailable contaminants. This work presents, for the first time, a spatial-temporal 14C model utilising recent developments in EwE software to predict the ecological fate of anthropogenic 14C in the marine environment. The model predicted observed trends in 14C activities between different species and through time. It also provided evidence for the integration of Sellafield 14C in species at higher trophic levels through time.