Accumulation of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal shells and sediments

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The nuclear energy industry produces radioactive waste at various stages of the fuel cycle. In the United Kingdom, spent fuel is reprocessed at the Sellafield facility in Cumbria on the North West coast of England. Waste generated at the site comprises a wide range of radionuclides including radiocarbon (14C) which is disposed of in various forms including highly soluble inorganic carbon within the low level liquid radioactive effluent, via pipelines into the Irish Sea. This 14C is rapidly incorporated into the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) reservoir and marine calcifying organisms, e.g. molluscs, readily utilise DIC for shell formation. This study investigated a number of sites located in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal zones. Results indicate 14C enrichment above ambient background levels in shell material at least as far as Port Appin, 265 km north of Sellafield. Of the commonly found species (blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) and common periwinkle (Littorina littorea)), mussels were found to be the most highly enriched in 14C due to the surface environment they inhabit and their feeding behaviour. Whole mussel shell activities appear to have been decreasing in response to reduced discharge activities since the early 2000s but in contrast, there is evidence of continuing enrichment of the carbonate sediment component due to in-situ shell erosion, as well as indications of particle transport of fine 14C-enriched material close to Sellafield.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Volume151
Issue numberPart 1
Early online date15 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2016

Fingerprint

Scotland
Cardiidae
Oceans and Seas
Mytilus edulis
Sediments
Carbon
Bivalvia
shell
dissolved inorganic carbon
Vinca
Molluscs
sediment
Radioactive Waste
Nuclear Energy
Aquatic Organisms
Mollusca
Spent fuels
Carbonates
Feeding Behavior
Radioactive wastes

Keywords

  • Sellafield
  • Intertidal
  • radiocarbon
  • sediments
  • radioactive effluents
  • carbon 14
  • sea water
  • water pollutant
  • bioaccumulation
  • carbon isotope
  • carbonate sediment
  • feeding behavior
  • geoaccumulation
  • radioactive waste
  • Ireland
  • Mytilus edulis
  • Scotland
  • Cumbria

Cite this

Tierney, Kieran M. ; Muir, Graham K.P. ; Cook, Gordon T. ; MacKinnon, Gillian ; Howe, John A. ; Heymans, Johanna J. ; Xu, Sheng. / Accumulation of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal shells and sediments. In: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 2016 ; Vol. 151, No. Part 1. pp. 321-327.
@article{545481b7f34d41f28133d1b6ff72a34f,
title = "Accumulation of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal shells and sediments",
abstract = "The nuclear energy industry produces radioactive waste at various stages of the fuel cycle. In the United Kingdom, spent fuel is reprocessed at the Sellafield facility in Cumbria on the North West coast of England. Waste generated at the site comprises a wide range of radionuclides including radiocarbon (14C) which is disposed of in various forms including highly soluble inorganic carbon within the low level liquid radioactive effluent, via pipelines into the Irish Sea. This 14C is rapidly incorporated into the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) reservoir and marine calcifying organisms, e.g. molluscs, readily utilise DIC for shell formation. This study investigated a number of sites located in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal zones. Results indicate 14C enrichment above ambient background levels in shell material at least as far as Port Appin, 265 km north of Sellafield. Of the commonly found species (blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) and common periwinkle (Littorina littorea)), mussels were found to be the most highly enriched in 14C due to the surface environment they inhabit and their feeding behaviour. Whole mussel shell activities appear to have been decreasing in response to reduced discharge activities since the early 2000s but in contrast, there is evidence of continuing enrichment of the carbonate sediment component due to in-situ shell erosion, as well as indications of particle transport of fine 14C-enriched material close to Sellafield.",
keywords = "Sellafield, Intertidal, radiocarbon, sediments, radioactive effluents, carbon 14, sea water, water pollutant, bioaccumulation, carbon isotope, carbonate sediment, feeding behavior, geoaccumulation, radioactive waste, Ireland, Mytilus edulis, Scotland, Cumbria",
author = "Tierney, {Kieran M.} and Muir, {Graham K.P.} and Cook, {Gordon T.} and Gillian MacKinnon and Howe, {John A.} and Heymans, {Johanna J.} and Sheng Xu",
year = "2016",
month = "1",
day = "31",
doi = "10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.10.029",
language = "English",
volume = "151",
pages = "321--327",
journal = "Journal of Environmental Radioactivity",
issn = "0265-931X",
number = "Part 1",

}

Accumulation of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal shells and sediments. / Tierney, Kieran M.; Muir, Graham K.P.; Cook, Gordon T.; MacKinnon, Gillian; Howe, John A.; Heymans, Johanna J.; Xu, Sheng.

In: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Vol. 151, No. Part 1, 31.01.2016, p. 321-327.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Accumulation of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal shells and sediments

AU - Tierney, Kieran M.

AU - Muir, Graham K.P.

AU - Cook, Gordon T.

AU - MacKinnon, Gillian

AU - Howe, John A.

AU - Heymans, Johanna J.

AU - Xu, Sheng

PY - 2016/1/31

Y1 - 2016/1/31

N2 - The nuclear energy industry produces radioactive waste at various stages of the fuel cycle. In the United Kingdom, spent fuel is reprocessed at the Sellafield facility in Cumbria on the North West coast of England. Waste generated at the site comprises a wide range of radionuclides including radiocarbon (14C) which is disposed of in various forms including highly soluble inorganic carbon within the low level liquid radioactive effluent, via pipelines into the Irish Sea. This 14C is rapidly incorporated into the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) reservoir and marine calcifying organisms, e.g. molluscs, readily utilise DIC for shell formation. This study investigated a number of sites located in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal zones. Results indicate 14C enrichment above ambient background levels in shell material at least as far as Port Appin, 265 km north of Sellafield. Of the commonly found species (blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) and common periwinkle (Littorina littorea)), mussels were found to be the most highly enriched in 14C due to the surface environment they inhabit and their feeding behaviour. Whole mussel shell activities appear to have been decreasing in response to reduced discharge activities since the early 2000s but in contrast, there is evidence of continuing enrichment of the carbonate sediment component due to in-situ shell erosion, as well as indications of particle transport of fine 14C-enriched material close to Sellafield.

AB - The nuclear energy industry produces radioactive waste at various stages of the fuel cycle. In the United Kingdom, spent fuel is reprocessed at the Sellafield facility in Cumbria on the North West coast of England. Waste generated at the site comprises a wide range of radionuclides including radiocarbon (14C) which is disposed of in various forms including highly soluble inorganic carbon within the low level liquid radioactive effluent, via pipelines into the Irish Sea. This 14C is rapidly incorporated into the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) reservoir and marine calcifying organisms, e.g. molluscs, readily utilise DIC for shell formation. This study investigated a number of sites located in Irish Sea and West of Scotland intertidal zones. Results indicate 14C enrichment above ambient background levels in shell material at least as far as Port Appin, 265 km north of Sellafield. Of the commonly found species (blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) and common periwinkle (Littorina littorea)), mussels were found to be the most highly enriched in 14C due to the surface environment they inhabit and their feeding behaviour. Whole mussel shell activities appear to have been decreasing in response to reduced discharge activities since the early 2000s but in contrast, there is evidence of continuing enrichment of the carbonate sediment component due to in-situ shell erosion, as well as indications of particle transport of fine 14C-enriched material close to Sellafield.

KW - Sellafield

KW - Intertidal

KW - radiocarbon

KW - sediments

KW - radioactive effluents

KW - carbon 14

KW - sea water

KW - water pollutant

KW - bioaccumulation

KW - carbon isotope

KW - carbonate sediment

KW - feeding behavior

KW - geoaccumulation

KW - radioactive waste

KW - Ireland

KW - Mytilus edulis

KW - Scotland

KW - Cumbria

U2 - 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.10.029

DO - 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.10.029

M3 - Article

VL - 151

SP - 321

EP - 327

JO - Journal of Environmental Radioactivity

JF - Journal of Environmental Radioactivity

SN - 0265-931X

IS - Part 1

ER -