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Interception, retention and translocation under greenhouse conditions of radiocaesium and radiostrontium from a simulated accidental source.

Vandecasteele, CM; Baker, S; Forstel, H; Muzinsky, M; Millan, R; Madoz-Escande, C; Tormos, J; Sauras, T; Schulte, E; Colle, C. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 278: (1-3) 199-214


The behaviour of radioactive aerosols released from a severely damaged nuclear reactor and deposited on cereals was simulated under controlled conditions. Cs-137- and Sr-90-labelled aerosols were generated by volatilisation at high temperature of an artificially spiked pellet of depleted UO2. After cooling and maturation the aerosols were allowed to deposit on spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L. var. Arbon) cultures grown on lysimeters under greenhouse conditions. At the time of contamination the wheat plants were at different stages of development, from early vegetative growth (two leaves) until nearly mature (end of flowering). The estimated interception coefficient (mu) amounted to 13.1 m(2) kg(-1); such a high value may be explained by the experimental conditions that created an over-saturated atmosphere during the contamination process and wet leaf surfaces. The first simulated rain, applied 6 days after the contamination, removed four times more Cs-137 (54% +/- 12 of the intercepted radionuclides) than Sr-90 (15% +/- 20) from the aerial parts. At harvest approximately 2% of the Sr and less than 1% of the Cs initially intercepted by the aerial parts is recovered for plants contaminated during the early development stages. A significantly higher proportion of the intercepted activity is still present for plants contaminated in the late development stages. The translocation to grains (TLF) increases when deposit occurs closer to the mature stage of the plant. The initial decrease of TLF values that we observed for strontium contamination in the earliest development stages is most probably due to the contribution of root uptake. Ploughing and re-sowing after the first rain, applied as a countermeasure reduced the Cs-137 content in leaves and steins at harvest approximately 3 times but had no effect on the Sr-90 content in vegetative organs. It reduced the Cs-137-contarnination level in edible parts (grain) by a factor of 2 compared to the unploughed control, but doubled the Sr-90 content.


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