Occurrence of plutonium and americium in plaice from the north–eastern Irish Sea


SMALL amounts of transuranic nuclides are discharged routinely into the north-eastern Irish Sea from the nuclear fuel element reprocessing plant at Windscale, Cumbria. Regular monitoring of the marine environment, as part of the established control procedure is made by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food1,2, primarily to ensure the radiological safety of the discharges in public health terms. Data on the partitioning of plutonium and americium between seawater, suspended material and sediment have already been published2,3 and the purpose of this communication is to present a preliminary report of these radionuclides in the plaice (Pleuronectes platessa). This is a demersal fish of commercial importance in the area and the critical material for discharges of transuranic nuclides. There are few published data on the concentrations of plutonium in marine fish4 and no data for americium have been reported.

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  1. 1

    Mitchell, N. T., Technical Rep., FRL 10, 40 (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, London, 1975).

  2. 2

    Hetherington, J. A., Jefferies, D. F., Mitchell, N. T., Pentreath, R. J., and Woodhead, D. S., Transuranium Nuclides in the Environment, IAEA-SM 199, 139–154 (International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1976).

  3. 3

    Hetherington, J. A., in Radioisotopes in the Aquatic Environment; Models and Mechanisms (Ann Arbor, in the press).

  4. 4

    Cherry, R. D., and Shannon, L. V., Atomic Energy Rev., 12, 3–45 (1974).

  5. 5

    Wong, K. M., Analyt. chim. Acta, 56, 355–364 (1971).

  6. 6

    Pentreath, R. J., and Jefferies, D. F., J. mar. Biol. Ass. U. K., 51, 963–976 (1971).

  7. 7

    International Commission on Radiological Protection Publication No. 9 (Pergamon, Oxford, 1966).

  8. 8

    Preston, A., in Environmental Aspects of Nuclear Power Stations, IAEA–SM, 146, 147–157 (International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1971).

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