Analytical method development for tritium in tree transpirate from the Little Forest Burial Ground

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Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
The Little Forest Burial Ground (LFBG) is a near-surface low-level nuclear waste repository located within the buffer zone surrounding the Lucas Heights Research Laboratories of ANSTO (Figure 1). Tritium (3H, ‘T’), as tritiated water (HTO), was one of the radioactive substances placed into the trenches located within the LFBG (Isaacs and Mears, 1977). This material will behave conservatively in regard to any seepage from the site of deposition. As such, it should be a good indicator of groundwater movement at the site. Water is a vital requirement of plants. Hence, it was proposed that samples from herbs and trees may be useful to assess the biologically available HTO and also provide an indication of a potential exposure for environmental dose assessment, not only for 3H but also for the other radionuclides potentially migrating with the water from the trenches. As part of the initial draft plan for a vegetation survey in the LFBG (Twining and Creighton, 2007) the following two null hypotheses were established: H0a that there is no significantly higher concentration of specific contaminants in foliage of trees growing over, or adjacent to, the pits than there is in the foliage of the same species growing away from the pits; H0b that there is no correlation between contaminant levels in the seepage plume and surface vegetation. These hypotheses are to be tested using the acquired data. However, as part of the process of applying HTO in transpirate as a monitoring tool, some method development has been required. This report covers all aspects of that development and provides a recommended approach to acquiring such data and recording the information.
Tritium, Ground disposal, Trees, Water, ANSTO, Radioactive materials
Twining, J. R., Harrison, J., Vine, M.,Creighton, N. M, Neklapilova, B., & Hoffmann, E. L. (2009). Analytical method development for tritium in tree transpirate from the Little Forest Burial Ground (NMESP/TN1). Lucas Heights, NSW: Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.