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Plutonium Inventories in Two Old-Field Ecosystems in the Vicinity of a Nuclear-Fuel Reprocessing Facility

J. E. Pinder, III, M. H. Smith, A. L. Boni, J. C. Corey and J. H. Horton
Ecology
Vol. 60, No. 6 (Dec., 1979), pp. 1141-1150
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/1936962
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1936962
Page Count: 10
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Plutonium Inventories in Two Old-Field Ecosystems in the Vicinity of a Nuclear-Fuel Reprocessing Facility
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Abstract

Plutonium inventories were determined in two old-field ecosystems, Fields 1 and 2, located near a nuclear-fuel reprocessing facility that had released approximately 640 mCi (24 GBq) ^2^3^8Pu and 57o mCi (21 GBq) ^2^3^9^,^2^4^0Pu to the atmosphere in the 20 yr preceding sampling. Field 1 was 230 m from the point of release (a 62-m stack) and contained 57 nCi (2.1 kBq) ^2^3^8Pu/m^2 and 225 nCi (9.4 kBq) ^2^3^9^,^2^4^0Pu/m^2. Field 2 was 420 m from the stack and contained 15 nCi (0.56 kBq) ^2^3^8Pu/m^2 and 79 nCi (2.9 kBq) ^2^3^9^,^2^4^0Pu/^2. The distribution of Pu between soil and vegetation components was similar in the two fields with only 1.3% of the ^2^3^8Pu and 0.2% of the ^2^3^9^,^2^4^0Pu occuring in pines, herbaceous vegetation and litter. More of the Pu could be suspended from the soil into the atmosphere by a 6 m/s wind on Field 1 than on Field 2 due to the lower biomass of herbaceous vegetation and litter on Field 1. Approximately 2% of the ^2^3^8^,^2^4^0Pu and 0.5% of the ^2^3^9^,^2^4^0Pu could be resuspended on Field 1, whereas only 0.5% of the ^2^3^8Pu and 0.1% of the ^2^3^9^,^2^4^0Pu could be resuspended on Field 2. Plutonium contamination of the vegetation occurred primarily by (1) direct deposition of recently released Pu onto vegetation, and (2) resuspension of Pu from the soil to vegetation surfaces. Root uptake apparently made negligible contributions to the Pu content of above-ground vegetation.

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