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The transport and fluvial redistribution of Chernobyl-derived radiocaesium within the River Wye basin, UK.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
  • J. S. Rowan
  • D. E. Walling
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/1992
<mark>Journal</mark>Science of the Total Environment
Volume121
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)109-131
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Relatively little attention has been given to the long term prospect of fluvial transport processes redistributing Chernobyl-derived radiocaesium within the UK. Work undertaken within the Wye basin, central Wales, demonstrates a complex distribution of fallout at the catchment scale, with the bulk of the deposition concentrated in a narrow north-south band, situated in the west central areas of the basin, which contained in excess of 1500 Bq m−2 of 134Cs. Fluvial transport and redistribution of this material was demonstrated by river sampling during the winter of 1988/89, when the radiocaesium content of suspended sediment transported by the River Wye (≈ 30–50 mBq g−1 of 137Cs) remained 3–5-times higher than pre-Chernobyl levels. Floodplain reaches displayed variable levels of secondary contamination, dependent upon the upstream supply of radiocaesium and local morphological controls. Accordingly, the highest 134Cs inventories within the basin (> 6000 Bq m−2) were associated with rapidly accreting floodplain sites. A number of these sites experienced only limited amounts of direct atmospheric fallout. The importance of fluvial redistribution as a secondary contamination mechanism is thus highlighted.