|SREL Reprint #0471|
Relationships Among Plutonium Contents of Soil, Vegetation and Animals Collected on and Adjacent to an Integrated Nuclear Complex in the Humid Southeastern United States of America
Randy McLendon, O. M. Stewart, A. L. Boni, J. C. Corey, K. W. McLeod,
Twenty-three representative sampling locations on
and adjacent to the Savannah River Plant (SRP) site were selected to obtain
information on plutonium movement in the food chain under southeastern US
environmental conditions. Soil, a
resuspendible fraction of the soil, honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica),
and camphor weed (Heterotheca subaxillards) were collected at each
location. Grasshoppers and cotton
rats (Sigmodon hispidus) were collected at some locations.
The plutonium concentrations in soil at the selected locations ranged
from 1.5 to 171 fCi/g and alpha percentages of 238Pu ranged from 2 to
66. The concentration of plutonium
in the vegetation and on the leaves ranged from 0.17 to 76.1 fCi/g and the alpha
percentages of 238Pu from 3 to 81.
The concentration of plutonium in cotton rats and grasshoppers ranged
from 0.07 to 3.58 fCi/g and the alpha percentages of 238Pu ranged
from 22 to 80.
The average ratio of plutonium concentration of vegetation to that of the
surrounding soil was 10-1: the
corresponding ratio for cotton rats and soil was 10-2.
These ratios appear to be independent of the plutonium concentration in
the soil. Deposition on the
surfaces of leaves and stems was the principal mechanism of plutonium
contamination of vegetation. Comparisons among the plutonium values of the vegetation,
soil and resuspendible fraction suggest that use of a proposed resuspendible
measurement technique at a monitoring method to indicate subtle changes in the
plutonium concentration of the soil surface that are not detectable by routine
soil sampling. Although the 238Pu
data in the various ecosystem components were not conclusive, they do support
evidence presented in other studies that there is an apparent increase in the
biological availability of 238Pu relative to that of 238Pu
in the environment. The plutonium
concentration of all ecosystem components decreased as the distance from the
reprocessing plants increased.
SREL Reprint #0471
McLendon, H.R., O.M. Stewart, A.L. Boni, J.C. Corey, K.W. McLeod, and J.E. Pinder. 1976. Relationships among plutonium contents of soil, vegetation and animals collected on and adjacent to an integrated nuclear complex in the humid southeastern United States of America. In Transuranium Nuclides in the Environment, p. 347-363. Vol. SM 199/85. International Atomic Energy Agency. Vienna, Austria.