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Local and global trace plutonium contributions in fast breeder legacy soils

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Article number1381
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>19/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Trace-level plutonium in the environment often comprises local and global contributions, and is usually anthropogenic in origin. Here, we report estimates of local and global contributions to trace-level plutonium in soil from a former, fast-breeder reactor site. The measured 240Pu/239Pu ratio is anomalously low, as per the reduced 240Pu yield expected in plutonium bred with fast neutrons. Anomalies in plutonium concentration and isotopic ratio suggest forensic insight into specific activities on site, such as clean-up or structural change. Local and global 239Pu contributions on-site are estimated at (34 ± 1)% and (66 ± 3)%, respectively, with mass concentrations of (183 ± 6) fg g−1 and (362 ± 13) fg g−1. The latter is consistent with levels at undisturbed and distant sites, (384 ± 44) fg g−1, where no local contribution is expected. The 240Pu/239Pu ratio for site-derived material is estimated at 0.05 ± 0.04. Our study demonstrates the multi-faceted potential of trace plutonium assay to inform clean-up strategies of fast breeder legacies. © 2021, The Author(s).