Radiostrontium contamination of soil and vegetation within the Semipalatinsk test site

Howard, B.J.; Semioschkina, N.; Voigt, G.; Mukusheva, M.; Clifford, J.. 2004 Radiostrontium contamination of soil and vegetation within the Semipalatinsk test site. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 43 (4). 285-292.

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The Semipalatinsk nuclear test site (STS) in the Republic of Kazakhstan was an important site for testing atomic bombs and other civil and military nuclear devices of the former Soviet Union. Results are presented from investigations on the extent of radiostrontium contamination in soils and vegetation at the technical areas of the STS, where the tests were conducted and in pastures used by farmers for grazing animals or for hay production. Our data are compared with those reported largely in the recent Russian language literature that has been reviewed. The extent of 90Sr contamination of soil is highly variable over the STS with the highest values associated with the technical areas, particularly the Degelen mountains. Recently measured values in both the present data and the Russian language literature confirm the relatively high current contamination of soil and vegetation in the vicinity of tunnels and associated watercourses in the Degelen area. The proportion of 90Sr in soil which could not be extracted with 6 M HCl was only an average of 20%, which is low compared to other test site areas and possibly indicates a relatively high mobility in this area, because the 90Sr is derived from leakage from explosion tunnels along watercourses rather than being associated with fused silicates. A comparison of relative activity concentrations in soil and vegetation suggests that the transfer of 90Sr to vegetation on the STS is high compared to that of 137Cs and plutonium.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > SE01B Sustainable Monitoring, Risk Assessment and Management of Chemicals > SE01.4 Monitoring and predicting the distribution of chemicals in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Environmental Chemistry & Pollution
ISSN: 0301-634X
Additional Keywords: radioecology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Apr 2012 10:16 +0 (UTC)

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