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IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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Plutonium behavior during the early diagenesis of marine sediments: applications to two marine environments labelled by radionuclides released from reprocessing plants.

Aurélien GOUZY - Doctoral thesis of the University of Caen, speciality "Terre solide et enveloppe superficielle", 304 p. defended on the 17th December 2004

Document type > *Mémoire/HDR/Thesis

Keywords > marine and estuarian radioecology, diagenesis, interstitial water, plutonium, sediment

Research Unit > IRSN/DEI/SECRE/LRC

Authors >

Publication Date > 17/12/2004

Summary

The plutonium released into the English Channel and the Irish Sea by nuclear fuel reprocessing plants is mainly associated to sediments. Nevertheless, this association is partilly reversible. This work combines a field study, carried out on the Cumbrian mud patch and the Esk estuary (Eastern Irish Sea), and laboratory experimnts performed on carbonaceous coarse-grained sediments collected in the Central Channel. It presents new data on the plutolium solid partition in sedimentsand suggests realisti scenarios for describing its release from sediments to the water column. The role of reactive sulphides acting as temporary sink phases is shown in anoxic sediments; those sulphides are liable to release dissolved plutonium upon their oxidation. The plutonium is also bound to carbonates within the carbonaceous matrix and as carbonate surface complexes. Conceptual schemes of the behaviour of the plutonium in marine sediments are proposed; they highlight the strong remobilisation potential of plutonium from marine sediments to the interstitiel water. Its pluonium content can be injected into the overlying water column.


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