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Sellafield-derived anthropogenic (super 14) C in the marine intertidal environment of the NE Irish Sea.

G T Cook, A B MacKenzie, G K P Muir, G Mackie, P Gulliver


The intertidal biota from Parton beach, close to the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, were all found to be enriched in radiocarbon relative to ambient background. The degree of enrichment appears to reflect the positions of the biota in the food chain once the dilution in seaweed from atmospheric uptake is taken into account. Close to the low-water mark, the order was mussels > limpets > anemones congruent to winkles > seaweed. The same order was observed close to the high-water mark, except that anemones were absent from this area. The activities in the biogeochemical fractions of the water column reflect the fact that discharges are primarily in the form of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), which is subsequently transferred to the particulate organic carbon (POC) and, to a lesser extent, the dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and finally, the particulate inorganic carbon (PIC). Analysis of intertidal sediment suggests that there is likely to be a gradual increase in the specific activity of (super 14) C in the inorganic component of this material as Sellafield contaminated organisms die and their shells are ground down by natural processes.


Atlantic Ocean;biota ;C 14;carbon ;coastal environment;Cumbria England;England ;Europe ;Great Britain;intertidal environment;Irish Sea;isotopes ;marine environment;North Atlantic;nuclear facilities;pollution ;radioactive isotopes;radioactive waste;samples ;sea water;sediments ;Sellafield England;spatial variations;United Kingdom;waste disposal;Western Europe

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