Anthropogenic 236U in Danish Seawater: Global Fallout versus Reprocessing Discharge

Jixin Qiao, Peter Steier, Sven Poul Nielsen, Xiaolin Hou, Per Roos, Robin Golser

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    This work focuses on the occurrence of 236U in seawater along Danish coasts, which is the sole water-exchange region between the North Sea-Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. Seawater collected in 2013 and 2014 were analyzed for 236U (as well as 238U and 137Cs). Our results indicate that 236U concentrations in Danish seawater are distributed within a relatively narrow range of (3.6-8.2) × 107 atom/L and, to a certain extent, independent of salinity. 236U/238U atomic ratios in Danish seawater are more than 4 times higher than the estimated global fallout value of 1× 10-9. The levels of 236U/238U atomic ratios obtained are comparable to those reported for the open North Sea and much higher than several other open oceans worldwide. This indicates that besides the global fallout input, the discharges from the two major European nuclear reprocessing plants are dominating sources of 236U in Danish seawater. However, unexpectedly high 236U/238U ratios as well as high 236U concentrations were observed at low-salinity locations of the Baltic Sea. While this feature might be interpreted as a clue for another significant 236U input in the Baltic Sea, it may also be caused by the complexity of water currents or slow turnover rate.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number12
    Pages (from-to)6867-6876
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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