|7. UNITED KINGDOM SOURCE POINTS|
The United Kingdom has numerous nuclear power stations
which are not reported on in this Website. The two major sources of radioactive
contamination in the United Kingdom are the Dounreay Nuclear Facility on
the North coast of Scotland, about which very little information is available,
and the Sellafield fuel reprocessing facility in northern England, of which
only a few of the most interesting studies pertaining to Sellafield effluents
are cited below. Sellafield is anomalous in that it is the one major fuel
reprocessing facility where the government has had the decency to document
radioactive effluents and their environmental impact, as well as (since
1980) to attempt to mitigate the volume of these discharges. Unfortunately
there has been significant increase in radioactive effluents from this
location due to the new Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, (THORP), now
accepting commercial spent fuel from Japan, France and other locations
for reprocessing. Sellafield is also the site of the 31 year old antiquated
MAGNOX nuclear power facility and an associated reprocessing plant for
MAGNOX fuel, where spent fuel is reprocessed in a weapons production complex,
and which was the source of most radioactive effluents prior to the construction
of the new THROP facility. The fuel reprocessing facilities at Sellafield
have the capacity to reprocess spent fuel from part or all of western Europe's
152 nuclear power plants. These reprocessing facilities create huge volumes
of liquid high-level radioactive wastes and highly toxic mixed wastes;
the current plan to dispose of most of these wastes in geological formations
underlying the Sellafield facility have the potential to create a radioactive
plume as large as any Russian or US weapons production plume of the 1960's.
Such stone age radioactive waste disposal technology will constitute what
is in essence the world's largest french drain (see RAD
Site of the world's first fast (breeder) reactor, this nuclear complex plays a key role in producing plutonium for weapons production in Britain. All three reactors here are now closed, but a fuel reprocessing facility at this location will be accepting spent fuel from an Australian plant (Lucas Heights Research Reactor) for recycling. This location is the focus of extensive controversy pertaining to uncontained disposal of plutonium and other types of radioactive waste. During the operation of the original reactors a deep shaft was constructed within the research station's security fence to access a waste tunnel sloping out to sea; millions of curies or more of uncontained high-level waste generated at these facilities were disposed of in this shaft. In 1977 this shaft was the location of a hydrogen explosion which sent radioactive wastes into the environment; the shaft was then sealed, but leakage continues. A recent evaluation of this waste shaft indicates it will be breached by the ocean in approximately 200 years, allowing near total release of its radioactive contents. Recent reports documenting the widespread presence of plutonium on local beaches etc. will be posted by RADNET as soon as they are obtained from MAFF and/or environmental organizations located in Scotland.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food & Scottish Environment Protection Agency. (September 1997). Radioactivity in Food and the Environment, 1996. RIFE-2. MAFF and SEPA, London, UK.
|Sellafield (Windscale) Fuel Reprocessing Facility|
The nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at Sellafield, formerly called Windscale, has been the source of enormous releases of radioactivity to the environment since it became operational in the early 1950's. In October of 1957 the Windscale facility, as it was called then, was the location of a nuclear accident which allegedly released the following inventories of radioactivity to the environment: 0.7 PBq 131I; 0.04 PBq 137Cs; 4 TBq 89Sr and 0.3 TBq 90Sr (Aarkrog, 1990). Asker Aarkrog gives the following encapsulation of Sellafield as a source point:
"... waterborne discharges of 137Cs from the nuclear reprocessing plant Sellafield in the UK have varied throughout the years. Maximum releases occurred around 1975, when about 4-5 PBq were discharged annually. Since then, the releases have been reduced significantly....A substantial part of the radiocesium discharged from Sellafield (10-15 PBq 137Cs) is probably still to be found in the Arctic Ocean." (Aarkrog, 1990, p.25-26)
With the 1994 opening of the thermal oxide reprocessing plant (THORP) at Sellafield, which is now reprocessing more than 200 tons of nuclear fuel from Japan and European countries annually, Asker Aarkrog's summary needs further updating, as what was a trend of declining discharges to the Irish Sea appears to have been reversed. A recent report by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland has noted a sharp increase in levels of Technetium 99 in seaweed collected along the east coast of Ireland in August of 1994, according to a November 1, 1996 article in the Irish Times. RADNET is seeking, and will annotate and post a citation of this report as soon as it is obtained from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland.
The following is the mean activity discharges rates
in curies per month to the Irish Sea, 1957-1967 as provided by the
Panel on Radioactivity in the Marine Environment (1971, pg. 32).
|Annual discharge (TBq)|
Aston, S.R. and Stanners, D.A. (1981). Plutonium transport
to and deposition and immobility in Irish Sea intertidal sediments. Nature,
|June 1978||River Esk, 10 km S. of Windscale||Sediment profiles; total core inventory, 1-15 cm||239,240Pu||945,600 pCi/15 cm cone (34,814 Bq/kg)|
|June 1978||River Esk, 10 km S. of Windscale||Sediment profiles; total core inventory, 1-15 cm||238Pu||191,500 pCi/15 cm cone (9,550 Bq/kg)|
Baxter, A.J. and Camplin, W.C. (1993). Radiocaesium in the seas of northern Europe: 1970-74. Fish. Res. Data Rep. MAFF Direct. Fish Res., Lowestoft. 30. pg. 1-111.
British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (1978-1989). Annual reports on radioactive discharges and monitoring of the environment. BNFL, PLC, Risley, Warrington, Cheshire.
British Nuclear Fuels Ldt. (1998). Unpublished documents and personal communications on accepting spent fuel from several U.S. nuclear power plants. See RAD12 5-E: Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Decommissioning Debacle Continued: FOE Exposes Secret Plan to Dump US Nuclear Waste in Britain.
Brown, Justin, Kolstad, A.K., Lind, B., Rudjord, A.L. and Strand, P. (1998). Technetium-99 contamination in the North Sea and in Norwegian coastal areas: 1996 and 1997. StrålevernRapport. 3. http://www.nrpa.no/Top/Rapport/Srap98-3.htm.
Brown, Paul. (January 2, 1999). British warned of nuclear waste leaks. The Guardian. Saturday ROP Edition. pg. 31.
Eakins, J.D., Lally, A.E., Cambray, R.S., Kilworth, D., Morrison, R.T. and Pratley, F. (1984). Plutonium in sheep feces as an indicator of deposition on vegetation. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 1, 87-105.
Hamilton-Taylor, J., Kelly, M., Mudge, S. and Bradshaw, K. (1987). Rapid remobilization of plutonium from estuarine sediments. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 5, 409-423.
Hunt, G.J. (1992). External doses to the public from beta-emitters in the aquatic environment near Springfields and Sellafield. J. Radiol. Prot. 12(4). pg. 233-238.
Hunt, G.J. (1995). Radiation doses to critical groups since the early 1950s due to disposals of liquid radioactive waste from Sellafield. In: International symposium on environmental impact of radioactive releases. IAEA-SM-339/16. IAEA, Vienna.
Hunt, G.J. and Smith, B.D. (April 8, 1999). The radiological impact of actinides discharged to the Irish sea. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 389-403.
Hunt, G.J., Smith, B.D. and Camplin, W.C. (1998). Recent changes in liquid radioactive waste disposals from Sellafield to the Irish Sea: Monitoring of the environmental consequences and radiological implications. Rad. Prot. Dosim. 75. pg. 149-153.
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology. (1987). Radionuclide
concentrations in bird tissues, their foods and feeding areas near Ravenglass.
DOE Report No. DOE/RW/88029. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Cumbria,
|1986||Ravenglass, 10 km. S. of plant||Shelduck feces||239,240Pu||3,535 Bq/kg dry weight|
|1986||Ravenglass||Shelduck feces||239Pu||887 Bq/kg dry weight|
|1986||Ravenglass||Molluscs||106Ru||891.7 Bq/kg fresh weight|
|1986||Ravenglass||Molluscs||137Cs||836.2 Bq/kg fresh weight|
Jones, D.G., Roberts, P.D., Strutt, M.H., Higgo, J.J. and Davis, J.R. (April 8, 1999). Distribution of 137Cs and inventories of 238Pu, 239/240Pu, 241Am and 137Cs in Irish sea intertidal sediments. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 159-189.
Kershaw, P.J., Denoon, D.C. and Woodhead, D.S. (April 8, 1999). Observations on the redistribution of plutonium and americium in the Irish sea sediments, 1978 to 1996: Concentrations and inventories. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 191-221.
Kinlen, L.J., Craft, A.W. and Parker, L. (June 1997). The excess of childhood leukaemia near Sellafield: A commentary on the fourth COMARE report. Journal of Radiological Protection. 17(2). pg. 63-71.
Leonard, K.L., McCubbin, D., Brown, J., Bonfield, R. and Brooks, T. (1997). A summary report of the distribution of technetium-99 in UK coastal waters. Radioprotection Colloques. 32. pg. 109-114.
Leonard, K.L., McCubbin, D., Blowers, P. and Taylor, B.R. (April 8, 1999). Dissolved plutonium and americium in surface waters of the Irish sea, 1973-1996. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 129-158.
Leonard, K.L., McCubbin, D., Brown, J., Bonfield, R. and Brooks, T. (1997). Distribution of technetium-99 in UK coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 34(8). pg. 628-636.
Livens, F.R. and Baxter, M.S. (1988). Particle size and radionuclide levels in some West Cumbrian soils. The Science of the Total Environment. 70. pg. 1-17.
|1985||Wigtown Bay||Sand + silt sediment||239Pu||194 Bq/kg|
|1985||Wigtown Bay||Sand + silt sediment||137Cs||1030 Bq/kg|
McCarthy, W. and Nicholls, T.M. (1990). Mass-spectrometric
analysis of plutonium in soils near Sellafield. J. Environ. Radioactivity,
|Sept. 1985||Newbiggin||Avg. of 7 silt samples||239,240Pu||2,563 Bq/kg|
McKay, W.A., Bonnett, P.J.P., Barr, H.M. and Howorth, J.M. (1993). Radiological assessment of radioactivity in tide washed pastures in South-West Scotland. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 21, 2, 77-106.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. (1997). Abnormal release of ruthenium-106 from BNFL Sellafield. MAFF, London. http://www.maff.gov.uk/food/incid_1/bnflrept.htm.
Mitchell, P.I., Condren, O.M., Vintro, L.L. and Mcmahon, C.A. (April 8, 1999). Trends in plutonium, americium and radiocaesium accumulation and long-term bioavailability in the western Irish sea mud basin. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 223-251.
Norris, R.S., Burrows, A.S. and Fieldhouse, R.W. (1994). Nuclear weapons data book. Vol. 5, British, French, and Chinese nuclear weapons. Westview Press, Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford.
O'Donnell, R.G., Mitchell, P.I., Priest, N.D., Strange, L., Fox, A., Henshaw, D.L. and Long, S.C. (1997). Variations in the concentration of plutonium, strontium-90 and total alpha-emitters in human teeth collected within the British Isles. The Science of the Total Environment. 201. pg. 235-243.
|1990||Galloway, Ireland||Salt marsh sediment||241Am||2,166 Bq/kg|
|1990||Galloway, Ireland||Salt marsh sediment||241Am||434,000 Bq/m2|
|1990||Galloway, Ireland||Salt marsh sediment||137Cs||5,159 Bq/kg|
|1990||Galloway, Ireland||Salt marsh sediment||137Cs||1,038,000 Bq/m2|
|1990||South Cumbria||Salt marsh sediment||241Am||783,000 Bq/m2|
Preston, A. and Jeffries, D.F. (1967). The assessment
of the principal public radiation exposure from, and the resulting control
of, discharges of aqueous radioactive waste from the United Kingdom Atomic
Energy Authority factory at Windscale, Cumberland.
|1959||South Wales||Porphyra (seaweed)||106Ru||40,000 Bq/kg|
Stanners, D.A. and Aston, S.R. (1982). Desorption of 106Ru, 134Cs, 137Cs, 144Ce and 241Am from Intertidal Sediment contaminated by nuclear fuel reprocessing effluents. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 14, 6, 687-691.
Thompson, N., Cross, J.E., Miller, R.M. and Day, J.P.
(1982). Alpha and gamma radioactivity in Fucus vesiculosus from the Irish
Sea. Environmental Pollution. 3. pg. 11-19.
|1980||5 km. N. of Sellafield||Fucus vesiculosus||239Pu||57,230 pCi/kg wet weight|
|1980||5 km. N. of Sellafield||Fucus vesiculosus||137Cs||144,500 pCi/kg wet weight|
|1990||8 km S. of Sellafield||Fucus vesiculosus||106Ru||161,900 pCi/kg|
|1990||8 km S. of Sellafield||Fucus vesiculosus||95Zr||1,034,900 pCi/kg|
Wilkins, B.T. et. al. (April 8, 1999). Potential incursion of marine sediment inland during storms: The radiological importance of actinider. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 371-388.
Wilkins, B.T., Simmonds, J.R. and Cooper, J.R. (1994). Assessment of the present and future implications of radioactive contamination of the Irish Sea coastal region of Cumbria. NRPB-R267. HMSO, London.
Woodhead, D.S. (April 8, 1999). Actinides in the Irish Sea. J. of Env. Radioactivity. 44(2-3). pg. 127-128.
| Index | Introduction | Guide | Accidents | Definitions | Radionuclides | Protection Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl | Source Points | Maine Yankee | Links | Bibliography | Alerts | Sponsor |