Radionuclide characterization and associated dose from long-lived radionuclides in close-in fallout delivered to the marine environment at Bikini and Enewetak Atoll

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Between June 1946 and October 1958, Enewetak and Bikini Atolls were used by the United States as testing grounds for 66 nuclear devices. The combined explosive yield from these tests was 107 Mt (Mt TNT equivalents). This testing produced close-in fallout debris that was contaminated with quantities of radioactive fission and particle activated products, and unspent radioactive nuclear fuel that entered the aquatic environment of the atolls. Today, the sediments in the lagoons are reservoirs for 10's of TBq of the transuranics and some long-lived fission and activation products. The larger amounts of contamination are associated with fine and coarse ... continued below

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270 Kilobytes pages

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Noshkin, V. E. & Robison, W. L. September 1, 1998.

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Between June 1946 and October 1958, Enewetak and Bikini Atolls were used by the United States as testing grounds for 66 nuclear devices. The combined explosive yield from these tests was 107 Mt (Mt TNT equivalents). This testing produced close-in fallout debris that was contaminated with quantities of radioactive fission and particle activated products, and unspent radioactive nuclear fuel that entered the aquatic environment of the atolls. Today, the sediments in the lagoons are reservoirs for 10's of TBq of the transuranics and some long-lived fission and activation products. The larger amounts of contamination are associated with fine and coarse sediment material adjacent to the locations of the high yield explosions. Radionuclides are also distributed vertically in the sediment column to various depths in all regions of the lagoons. Concentrations greater than fallout background levels are found in filtered water sampled over several decades from all locations and depths in the lagoons. This is a direct indication that the radionuclides are continuously mobilized to solution from the solid phases. Of particular importance is the fact that the long-lived radionuclides are accumulated to different levels by indigenous aquatic plants and organisms that are used as food by resident people. One might anticipate finding continuous high contamination levels in many of the edible marine organisms from the lagoons, since the radionuclides associated with the sediments are not contained and are available to the different organisms in a relatively shallow water environment. This is not the case. We estimate that the radiological dose from consumption of the edible parts of marine foods at Enewetak and Bikini is presently about 0.05% of the total 50-year integral effective dose from all other exposure pathways that include ingestion of terrestrial foods and drinking water, external exposure and inhalation. The total radiological dose from the marine pathway is dominated by the natural radionuclides, {sup 210}Po and {sup 210}Pb. Man-made radionuclides presently contribute less than 0.3% of the dose from these natural radionuclides in the marine food chain.

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270 Kilobytes pages

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  • International Symposium on Marine Pollution, Monte-Carlo (MC), 10/05/1998--10/09/1998

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JC-130230
  • Report No.: HD2006400
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 2777
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc671696

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  • September 1, 1998

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  • June 29, 2015, 9:42 p.m.

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  • Aug. 8, 2016, 7:32 p.m.

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Noshkin, V. E. & Robison, W. L. Radionuclide characterization and associated dose from long-lived radionuclides in close-in fallout delivered to the marine environment at Bikini and Enewetak Atoll, article, September 1, 1998; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc671696/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.