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Title: Radionuclide bioaccumulation patterns in vegetation at a legacy low-level waste site
Authors: Wilsher, KL
Johansen, MP
Howitt, JA
Doran, G
Twining, JR
Child, DP
Dodson, JR
Dore, MJ
Harrison, JJ
Hotchkis, MAC
Mokhber-Shahin, L
Payne, TE
Thiruvoth, S
Wong, HKY
Keywords: Radioactivity
Radioactive waste disposal
Ground disposal
New South Wales
Issue Date: 16-Oct-2012
Publisher: Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Citation: Wilsher, K. L., Johansen, M. P., Howitt, J. A., Doran, G., Twining, J. R., Child, D. P., Dodson, J., Dore, M. J., Harrison, J. J., Hotchkis, M. A. C., Mokhber-Shahin, L., Payne, T. E., Thiruvoth, & Wong, H. K. Y. (2012). Radionuclide bioaccumulation patterns in vegetation at a legacy low-level waste site. Paper presented to the 12th South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association Conference (SPERA 2012), Tuesday 16 October – Friday 19 October 2012 Sydney, Lucas Heights, NSW, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. (p. 63).
Abstract: This study focuses on uptake of radionuclides (RN) into trees at a legacy low level radioactive waste site (the Little Forest Burial Ground (LFBG) near Lucas Heights in southern Sydney). Tree species included: Acacia longifolia longifolia; Syncarpia glomulifera; Eucalyptus paniculate; Leptospermum polygalifolium; and Banksia serrata. Branches – (wood and foliage) were sampled, and soil cores were collected around each tree. Analytical techniques included Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry and Mass Spectrometry, alpha and gamma spectrometry, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry and Cerenkov counting. Anthropogenic RN measured in trees and soils were 90Sr, 137Cs, 233U, 239+240Pu and 241Am. Median concentrations of RN in trees growing on, or near, the trenches (90Sr - 9.855 Bq/kg, 137Cs - 0.220 Bq/kg, 239+240Pu - 0.004 Bq/kg) were significantly higher than background trees (90Sr – 0.001 Bq/kg, 137Cs – n.d., 239+240Pu - 0.002 Bq/kg). Most trees had higher levels in foliage compared to wood. However; there was large variation among branches within the same tree. Uptake of radionuclides was quantified by the concentration ratio (CR), defined as average concentration in the tree to that of the surrounding soil. CR’s for trees growing around the trenches were an order of magnitude higher than for background trees, which is attributed to the trees taking up radionuclides directly from the subsurface. Our results better quantify the bio-available fraction of radionuclides in the environment at the LFBG, and reveal that site trees are bio-monitors of multiple radionuclides sourced from the sub-surface wastes.
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