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Title: Plutonium Isotopes in the Terrestrial Environment at the Savannah River Site, USA. A Long-Term Study

This work presents the findings of a long term plutonium study at Savannah River Site (SRS) conducted between 2003 and 2013. Terrestrial environmental samples were obtained at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) in A-area. Plutonium content and isotopic abundances were measured over this time period by alpha spectrometry and three stage thermal ionization mass spectrometry (3STIMS). Here we detail the complete sample collection, radiochemical separation, and measurement procedure specifically targeted to trace plutonium in bulk environmental samples. Total plutonium activities were determined to be not significantly above atmospheric global fallout. However, the 238Pu/ 239+240Pu activity ratios attributed to SRS are above atmospheric global fallout ranges. The 240Pu/ 239Pu atom ratios are reasonably consistent from year to year and are lower than fallout, while the 242Pu/ 239Pu atom ratios are higher than fallout values. Overall, the plutonium signatures obtained in this study reflect a mixture of weapons-grade, higher burn-up, and fallout material. This study provides a blue print for long term low level monitoring of plutonium in the environment.
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  1. Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 49; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States