AMS measurements of 14C and 129I in seawater around radioactive waste dump sites

P. P. Povinec, B. Oregioni, A. J.T. Jull, W. E. Kieser, X. L. Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


According to a recent IAEA compilation of inventories of radioactive wastes dumped in the world ocean, a total of 85 PBq of radioactive wastes were dumped, in the Atlantic (45 PBq), the Pacific (1.4 PBq) and the Arctic (38 PBq) Oceans and their marginal seas between 1946 and 1993, mostly in the form of low-level wastes. 3H and 14C formed an important part of the beta-activity of these dumped wastes. Because of its long half-life, 14C will be the main constituent in possible leakages from the wastes in the future. On the other hand, 14C and 129I are important radioactive tracers which have been artificially introduced into the oceans. Small amounts of 14C and 129I can be easily measured by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) on mg-size samples of carbon and iodine extracted from 500 ml seawater samples. The high analytical sensitivity enables one therefore to find even trace amounts of 14C and 129I which could be released from radioactive wastes, and to compare the measured levels with the global distribution of these radionuclides. The IAEAs Marine Environment Laboratory (IAEA-MEL) has been engaged in an assessment program related to radioactive waste dumping in the oceans since 1992 and has participated in several expeditions to the Atlantic, Arctic, Indian and Pacific Oceans to sample seawater, biota and sediment for radiological assessment studies. In the present paper, we report on methods of 14C and 129I measurements in seawater by AMS and present data on the NE Atlantic, the Arctic and the NW Pacific Ocean dumping sites. A small increase of 14C was observed at the NE Atlantic dumping site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-678
Number of pages7
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2000


  • 129I
  • AMS
  • C
  • Marine radioctivity
  • Radionuclides in seawater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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