The Clinch River Study is a multiagency effort to evaluate the physical, chemical, and biological effects of the release to de Clinch River of low-level radioactive wastes from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The major radionuclides released are ruthenium-106, cesium-137, cobalt-60, and strontium-90. Hydrologic and biologic studies have indicated that the radiation doses in the river are well below maximum acceptable levels. Radionuclide concentrations in river water have been measured at seven sampling stations on the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. Mass-balance calculations for 44 weeks of sampling indicate that losses of radionuclides from the water phase to the river-bottom sediments represent only a very small part of the total radioactivity released to the river.
A study of the Clinch River bottom-sediment cores collected in 1962 has disclosed a recurring pattern of variation in radioactivity with depth which may reflect past events in waste-disposal operations at the laboratory. Current investigations are expected to provide information about the chemical forms in which the major radionuclides exist and the mechanisms by which they were incorporated in the sediments.