Utirik Atoll Dose Assessment

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On March 1, 1954, radioactive fallout from the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll code-named BRAVO was deposited on Utirik Atoll which lies about 187 km (300 miles) east of Bikini Atoll. The residents of Utirik were evacuated three days after the fallout started and returned to their atoll in May 1954. In this report we provide a final dose assessment for current conditions at the atoll based on extensive data generated from samples collected in 1993 and 1994. The estimated population average maximum annual effective dose using a diet including imported foods is 0.037 mSv y{sup -1} (3.7 mrem y{sup ... continued below

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Robison, W.L.; Conrado, C.L. & Bogen, K.T October 6, 1999.

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Description

On March 1, 1954, radioactive fallout from the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll code-named BRAVO was deposited on Utirik Atoll which lies about 187 km (300 miles) east of Bikini Atoll. The residents of Utirik were evacuated three days after the fallout started and returned to their atoll in May 1954. In this report we provide a final dose assessment for current conditions at the atoll based on extensive data generated from samples collected in 1993 and 1994. The estimated population average maximum annual effective dose using a diet including imported foods is 0.037 mSv y{sup -1} (3.7 mrem y{sup -1}). The 95% confidence limits are within a factor of three of their population average value. The population average integrated effective dose over 30-, 50-, and 70-y is 0.84 mSv (84, mrem), 1.2 mSv (120 mrem), and 1.4 mSv (140 mrem), respectively. The 95% confidence limits on the population-average value post 1998, i.e., the 30-, 50-, and 70-y integral doses, are within a factor of two of the mean value and are independent of time, t, for t > 5 y. Cesium-137 ({sup 137}Cs) is the radionuclide that contributes most of this dose, mostly through the terrestrial food chain and secondarily from external gamma exposure. The dose from weapons-related radionuclides is very low and of no consequence to the health of the population. The annual background doses in the U. S. and Europe are 3.0 mSv (300 mrem), and 2.4 mSv (240 mrem), respectively. The annual background dose in the Marshall Islands is estimated to be 1.4 mSv (140 mrem). The total estimated combined Marshall Islands background dose plus the weapons-related dose is about 1.5 mSv y{sup -1} (150 mrem y{sup -1}) which can be directly compared to the annual background effective dose of 3.0 mSv y{sup -1} (300 mrem y{sup -1}) for the U. S. and 2.4 mSv y{sup -1} (240 mrem y{sup -1}) for Europe. Moreover, the doses listed in this report are based only on the radiological decay of {sup 137}Cs (30.1 y half-life) and other radionuclides. However, we continually see {sup 137}Cs in the groundwater at all contaminated atolls; the turnover time of the groundwater is about 5 y. The {sup 137}Cs can only get to the groundwater by leaching through the soil column when a portion of the soluble fraction of {sup 137}Cs inventory in the soil is transported to the groundwater when rainfall is heavy enough to cause recharge of the aquifer. This process is causing a loss of {sup 137}Cs out of the root zone of the plants that provides an environmental loss constant ({lambda}{sub env}) in addition to radiological decay {lambda}{sub rad}. Consequently, there is an effective rate of loss, {lambda}{sub eff} = {lambda}{sub rad} + {lambda}{sub env} that is the sum of the radiological and environmental-loss decay constants. We have had, and continue to have, a vigorous program to determine the rate of the environmental loss process. What we do know at this time is that the loss of {sup 137}Cs over time is greater than the estimate based on radiological decay only, and that the actual dose received by the Utirik people over 30-, 50-, or 70-y will be less than those presented in this report.

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1,300 Kilobytes pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 6 Oct 1999

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  • Report No.: UCRL-LR-135953
  • Grant Number: W-7405-Eng-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/791658 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 791658
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc742971

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  • October 6, 1999

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  • Oct. 19, 2015, 7:39 p.m.

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  • May 6, 2016, 3:08 p.m.

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Robison, W.L.; Conrado, C.L. & Bogen, K.T. Utirik Atoll Dose Assessment, report, October 6, 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc742971/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.