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Publication

Title:Effects of complex hydrodynamic processes on the horizontal and vertical distribution of Tc-99 in the Irish Sea
Authors:Agnieszka I. Olbert,Michael Hartnett, Tomasz Dabrowski, Kevin Kellehe, 2010
Abstract: The increased discharge of Tc-99 from the Sellafield plant following the commissioning of the Enhance Actinide Removal Plant in 1994 was reflected in higher Tc-99 activity concentrations over much of the Irish Sea. The presence of this radionuclide in the marine environment is of concern not only because of its long half life but also high bio-concentration factor in commercially valuable species, such Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and common lobster (Homarus gammarus). Accurate predictions of the transport, and spatial and temporal distributions of Tc-99 in the Irish Sea have important environmental and commercial implications. In this study, transport of the Tc-99 material was simulated in order to develop an increased understanding of long-term horizontal and vertical distributions. In particular, impact of seasonal hydrodynamic features such as the summer stratification on the surface-to-bottom Tc-99 ratio was of interest. Also, material retention mechanisms within the western Irish Sea were explored and flushing rates under various release conditions and meteorological forcing were estimated. The results show that highest vertical gradients are observed between June and July in the deepest regions of the North Channel and the western Irish Sea where radionuclide-rich saline-poor water overlays radionuclide-poor saline-rich Atlantic water masses. Strong correlation between top-to-bottom ratio of Tc- 99 and strength of stratification was found. Flushing studies demonstrate that as the stratification intensifies, residence times within the western Irish Sea increase. In stratified waters of the gyre Tc-99 material is flushed out from the upper layer much quicker than from the bottom zone. The research also shows that in the gyre the biologically active upper layers above the thermocline are likely to contain higher concentrations than the near-bed region. Long-term horizontal and vertical distributions as determined in this study provide a basis for assessment of a potential biota exposure to Tc-99.
ICHEC Project:PRISM - Predictive Irish Sea Models
Publication:Science of the Total Environment 409 (2010) 150–161
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.09.017
Keywords: Technetium-99 Irish Sea Western Irish Sea gyre Numerical model Dispersion Stratification Flushing Bioaccumulation
Status: Accepted

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