Ecosystem uptake and transfer of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (C-14) part 2: The West of Scotland

Kieran M. Tierney, Graham K. P. Muir, Gordon T. Cook, Gillian MacKinnon, John A. Howe, Johanna J. Heymans, David J. Hughes, Sheng Xu

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Abstract

Ecosystem uptake and transfer of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) were examined within the West of Scotland marine environment. The dissolved inorganic carbon component of seawater, enriched in 14C, is transported to the West of Scotland where it is transferred through the marine food web. Benthic and pelagic biota with variable life-spans living in the North Channel and Clyde Sea show comparable 14C activities. This suggests that mixing of 14C within the Irish Sea results in a relatively constant northwards dispersal of activity. Benthic species in the Firth of Lorn have similar 14C enrichments, demonstrating that Irish Sea residual water is the dominant source to this area. Measured 14C activities in biota show some similarity to western Irish Sea activities, indicating that dispersion to the West of Scotland is significant with respect to the fate of Sellafield 14C releases. Activities measured in commercially important species do not pose any significant radiological risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume115
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • Radiocarbon (C-14)
  • Sellafield
  • West of Scotland
  • Marine ecosystem

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