Information about source points of anthropogenic radioactivity

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RADNET is one of the more complicated Websites on the net. What information about anthropogenic radioactivity are you seeking? The following questions and answers are our attempt to direct you to the section of RADNET that would be most helpful in providing the information you are seeking.

The primary purpose of RADNET, as noted in the introduction, is to document nuclide-specific contamination of the abiotic and biotic environment from nuclear weapons and nuclear power source points. This means that there is a huge amount of nuclear information which you cannot locate within this Website. The role of RADNET Section 13: RADLINKS is to connect RADNET visitors to the principal nuclear and general environmental information sources throughout the world, including both governmental and private, national and international WWW links.

What's new? -- Our most recent publication -- a paper on Generic and Site-specific Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance Programs.

A report to the Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Office of Legal Counsel: Patterns of Noncompliance: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Generic and Site-specific Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance Programs.

Health Physics Questions:

What is the impact of radiation, nuclear accidents, source points of anthropogenic radioactivity, exposure to specific radioactive isotopes on human health? This is the type of question most frequently directed to RADNET. RADNET includes no specific information about the impact of radiation on human health; none of the sections of RADNET contain the answers to such questions. RADNET therefore contains no dose-effect information which might evolve from data pertaining to contamination of the biosphere with anthropogenic radioactivity. However, since questions pertaining to the health effects of ionizing radiation are frequently received, the following sections of RADNET may be helpful in answering these questions or providing links to the numerous WWW information sources on these subjects.

Nuclear Accidents and Incidents:

Documenting the presence of specific radioisotopes which originate from nuclear accidents and incidents is the principal objective of RADNET. Prior to any evaluation of the health impact of a nuclear accident or incident, it is essential that as much data as possible about the source term and pathways of plumes of anthropogenic radioactivity be available, especially to non-experts who may doubt, as do the editors of RADNET, the truthfulness of dose estimations made without any knowledge, or with limited knowledge, of the amount of radioactivity to which specific population groups are exposed.

Nuclear Power Issues:

A variety of safety, decommissioning, regulatory, legislative, and political issues and questions surround the now increasingly controversial operation of commercial nuclear power plants both in the United States and overseas. As the principal potential source point of significant quantities of anthropogenic radioactivity in the bioregion in which RADNET is located (the Gulf of Maine), the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station in Wiscasset, Maine, has long been a subject of interest to RADNET. A number of RADNET sponsor (Center for Biological Monitoring) publications are listed in RAD 16: RADNET Sponsor Information.

Nuclear Weapons Production Source Points:

Most of the major plumes of anthropogenic radioactivity which will be of concern to the citizens of the next millennium originate from nuclear weapons production sites established in the 20th century. Very little information about the effluents from these facilities is available due to the shroud of secrecy which surrounds most weapons production facilities. RADNET has no information whatsoever about weapons production facilities outside of the United States other than preliminary data now being made available by Aarkrog (Riso National Laboratory), the IEER, and others about huge Russian weapons-production-derived plumes. Major US weapons production facilities are shrouded in both secrecy and paradox: the detailed DOE environmental remediation site reports, as well as many other US government sponsored publications, contain a wealth of information about these plume source points while, at the same time, assiduously avoid any accounting of the curic inventories of the uncontained releases of radioactivity associated with these facilities.


RADNET provides the largest compilation of annotated citations pertaining to Chernobyl-derived radioactive contamination available anywhere on the World Wide Web. The entire section of RAD 10 is devoted to reports documenting the hemispheric spread of the plume from the Chernobyl accident. In RAD 10, the general bibliography is followed by a few (very important) citations about Chernobyl-derived hot particles. The remaining part of RAD 10 is a very incomplete summary of nuclide-specific data presented in a country-by-country listing. Most of this information was compiled between 1986 and 1990.

Sellafield and Dounreay:

Among the largest nuclear accidents-in-progress, most Sellafield (Cumbria) information is in RAD 11: Part 7. Very little biological monitoring information is available about Dounreay (Northern Scotland) as a source point.

Satellite Accidents:

The upcoming Cassini mission to Saturn has the potential to become one of the most significant nuclear accidents of the future. For information on satellite accidents in general (238Pu radioisotope thermal generators) and the Cassini mission in particular, visit RAD 11: Part 10. Also see RAD 3, Nuclear Accidents-in-Progress:

Radiation Protection Safety Guidelines:

One of the problems editors of RADNET have encountered is the lack of a reliable, accessible, radiation protection guide providing practical, comprehensive information to be used in the event of a nuclear accident. Particularly lacking is a guideline which gives simultaneous consideration of not only all exposure pathways, but also all the biologically significant radionuclides released during a nuclear accident or explosion, including transuranic (plutonium, neptuniun, americium, and curium) and other long-lived isotopes. It is particularly important that such a guide begin with relatively low-levels of radioactive contamination which will have little or no significant health physics impact, prior to the delineation of emergency protection actions which would be taken when the threat to public health was imminent.

Anthropogenic Radioactivity Baseline Data:

A cumulative baseline of radioactive contamination resulting from human activities now exists in most abiotic as well as biotic components of the earth's biosphere. This baseline of contamination includes not only the indicator nuclide 137Cs used throughout RADNET but also 238Pu, 239Pu, 241Am, 90Sr, 129I, 3H, and numerous other isotopes listed in RAD 8 and RAD 10.

Anthropogenic Radioactivity - Dietary Intake:

The dietary intake of anthropogenic radionuclides from a particular source point will often be delayed by a much longer time period than the few hours it takes for the short-lived (1/2 T = 8 days) indicator radionuclide 131I to make its way up the food chain following a nuclear accident. Perusal of data pertaining to contamination of the food supply following both weapons testing fallout and Chernobyl-derived fallout illustrates the longer-lived indicator nuclide 137Cs (1/2 T = 30 years) takes approximately one year to reach its maximum level in some food basket surveys.

General Information:

Some basic general information sources are included in RAD 14: General Bibliography: Ancient Hard Copy. One of the basic texts is Isenbud (1987).  The more difficult to locate publications of the IAEA are also essential sources of general information about anthropogenic radiation. Additional citations will be added to this section of RADNET over time.

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| Index | Introduction | Guide | Accidents | Definitions | Radionuclides | Protection Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl | Source Points | Maine Yankee | Links | Bibliography | Alerts | Sponsor |