• Sellafield-Derived Anthropogenic 14C in the Marine Intertidal Environment of the NE Irish Sea

      Cook, G. T.; MacKenzie, A. B.; Muir, G. K. P.; Mackie, G.; Gulliver, P. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2004-01-01)
      The intertidal biota from Parton beach, close to the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, were all found to be enriched in radiocarbon relative to ambient background. The degree of enrichment appears to reflect the positions of the biota in the food chain once the dilution in seaweed from atmospheric uptake is taken into account. Close to the low-water mark, the order was mussels > limpets > anemones congruent to winkles > seaweed. The same order was observed close to the high-water mark, except that anemones were absent from this area. The activities in the biogeochemical fractions of the water column reflect the fact that discharges are primarily in the form of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), which is subsequently transferred to the particulate organic carbon (POC) and, to a lesser extent, the dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and finally, the particulate inorganic carbon (PIC). Analysis of intertidal sediment suggests that there is likely to be a gradual increase in the specific activity of 14C in the inorganic component of this material as Sellafield contaminated organisms die and their shells are ground down by natural processes.
    • Sources of Anthropogenic 14C to the North Sea

      Gulliver, P.; Cook, G. T.; MacKenzie, A. B.; Naysmith, P.; Anderson, R. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2004-01-01)
      The Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant on the northwest coast of England is the largest source of anthropogenic radiocarbon to the UK coastal environment. In a mid-1990s study of 14C distribution around the UK coast, the pattern of dilution with increasing distance from Sellafield appeared to be perturbed by anomalously high 14C activities in marine biota in the coastal environment of northeast England. This present study was undertaken during 1998 and 1999 to determine whether this 14C enhancement was due to Sellafield or the nuclear power plants on the east coast. Seawater, seaweed (Fucus sp.), and mussel (Mytilus edulis) samples that were collected from the vicinity of the Torness and Hartlepool advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) nuclear power stations were all enhanced above the contemporary regional background activity derived from natural production and atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. We used previously published dilution factors and transfer times for 99Tc between Sellafield and various points on the UK coast to determine likely Sellafield-derived 14C contributions to the activities at the nuclear power plant sites. The results suggest that the activities observed at Torness, which are only marginally enhanced above the natural background activity, are possibly due to discharges from Sellafield; however, the significant 14C enhancements at Hartlepool are not Sellafield-derived. Furthermore, since both reactors have the same fundamental design, the low activities at the Torness AGR imply that the activities at Hartlepool are not from the AGR, suggesting that there is an input of 14C to the marine environment in the vicinity of Hartlepool which is probably non-nuclear-power related. However, there is no other authorized site in the area that could account for the observed 14C enrichments; therefore, further research is required to ascertain the source of this 14C.