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Title: The behaviour of radionuclides in the Ribble Estuary, NW England.
Author: Brown, Justin.
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 1997
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The main aim of this project was to consider the geochemical behaviour of a suite of radionuclides (137Cs, 241 Am, isotopes of Pu, Th and U and 234mpa)in the Ribble estuarine environment. Controls on the vertical distribution of radionuclides in sediment deposits were considered and the fluxes of sediment and radionuclides at sites close to the river channel were investigated. Vertical activity distributions were studied by taking cores from various intertidal sediment deposits. Sediment/activity fluxes were studied by installing sediment traps. All samples were analysed by gamma spectrometry. Selected samples were analysed for total organic carbon, mineralogy (XRD), major and trace-metals (XRF), grainsize distribution (laser granulometry) and alpha-emitting radionuclides (alpha spectrometry). The geochemical phase associations of radionuclides were investigated using sequential extraction experiments. Sellafield-derived radionuclides exhibited distinct subsurface maxima (up to 4 785 ± 42 Bq kg" 137Cs, 618 ± 14 Bq kg" 239,240pUand 868 ± Bq kg" 241Am) in mature saltmarsh sediment deposits. Thorium-230 exhibited more complex depth profiles (maximum = 2383 ± 36 Bq kg"). Variations in grain-size were low and therefore not important in controlling the specific activity variation with depth at these sites. The effects of early diagenesis on the specific activity profiles of 137Cs, 241 Am, 239,240pU and 230Th were small. The vertical distribution of Sellafield-derived radionuclides reflected the cumulative discharge pattern from Sellafield implicating a sediment transport mechanism that has involved the integration of contamination from previous discharge events. The vertical distribution of 230Th reflected the annual discharge pattern from BNFL Springfields implicating a transport pathway that involves little mixing of sediment. Levels of Springfields-derived 234mpaand 234Th were highly variable in time and space «0.5 - 495 kBq kg' recorded at Penwortham over the course of the study). The antecedent river discharge regime appears to be the dominant influence on the specific activity of these radionuclides at upstream sites.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available