Tritium and plutonium in waters from the Bering and Chukchi Seas

Health Physics
By: , and 



During the summer of 1993, seawater in the Bering and Chukchi Seas was sampled on a joint Russian-American cruise [BERPAC] of the RV Okean to determine concentrations of tritium, 239Pu and 240Pu. Concentrations of tritium were determined by electrolytic enrichment and liquid scintilation counting. Tritium levels ranged up to 420 mBq L-1 showed no evidence of inputs other than those attribute atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. Plutonium was recovered from water samples by ferric hydroxide precipitation, and concentrations were determined by thermal ionization mass spectrometry. 239+240Pu concentrations ranged from <1 to 5.5 [mu]Bq L-1. These concentrations are lower than those measured in water samples from other parts of the ocean during the mid-1960's to the late 1980's. The 240Pu:239Pu ratios, although associated with large uncertainties, suggest that most of the plutonium is derived from world-wide fallout. As points of comparison, the highest concentrations of tritium and plutonium observed here were about five orders of magnitude lower than the maximum permissible concentrations allowed in water released to the off-site environs from licensed nuclear facilities in the United States. This study and others sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Office of Naval Research's Arctic Nuclear Waste Assessment Program are providing data for the assessment of potential radiological impacts in the Arctic regions associated with nuclear waste disposal by the former Soviet Union.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tritium and plutonium in waters from the Bering and Chukchi Seas
Series title Health Physics
DOI 10.1097/00004032-199912000-00011
Volume 77
Issue 6
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher Health Physics Society
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 9 p.
First page 668
Last page 676
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