• Anthropogenic Radiocarbon: Past, Present, and Future

      Povinec, Pavel; Chudý, Martin; Šivo, Alexander (American Journal of Science, 1986-01-01)
      14C is one of the most important anthropogenic radionuclides released to the environment by human activities. Weapon testing raised the 14C concentration in the atmosphere and biosphere to +100% above the natural level. This excess of atmospheric 14C at present decreases with a half-life of ca 7 years. Recently, a new source of artificially produced 14C in nuclear reactors has become important. Since 1967, the Bratislava 14C laboratory has been measuring 14C in atmospheric 14CO2 and in a variety of biospheric samples in densely populated areas and in areas close to nuclear power plants. We have been able to identify a heavy-water reactor and the pressurized water reactors as sources of anthropogenic 14C. 14C concentrations show typical seasonal variations. These data are supported by measurements of 3H and 85Kr in the same locations. Results of calculations of future levels of anthropogenic 14C in the environment due to increasing nuclear reactor installations are presented.
    • Global and Local Effects of 14C Discharges from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

      McCartney, Martin; Baxter, M. S.; McKay, Keith; Scott, E. Marian (American Journal of Science, 1986-01-01)
      The radiologic impact of 14C produced by the nuclear fuel cycle is assessed at both global and local levels. In the former context, it is predicted here that the specific activity of atmospheric CO2 in the year 2050 will be ca 7.6 pCig^(-1)C. Although this is similar to the present level, the subsequent collective dose commitment could be highly significant. The enhancement of 14C concentrations around the nuclear fuel-reprocessing plant at Sellafield (Windscale) in Cumbria, UK has been monitored over recent years. For example, maximum levels of 27.2 pCig^(-1)C (~350% above natural) during 1984 were observed <1 km from the plant, with enhanced activities detectable to at least 29km. Nevertheless, it is clear that the radiologic significance to the local population is low. The spatial distribution of the excess 14C allows atmospheric dispersion models to be tested in the context of continuous releases and the results thus far show that the Gaussian plume model performs successfully.