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J Environ Radioact. 2008 Jan;99(1):109-18. Epub 2007 Sep 14.

Preliminary evaluation of (135)Cs/(137)Cs as a forensic tool for identifying source of radioactive contamination.

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  • 1Trace Element Core, Dartmouth College, 6105 Fairchild, Hanover, NH 03755, USA. vivien.f.taylor@dartmouth.edu


Ratios of the fission products (135)Cs and (137)Cs were determined in soil and sediment samples contaminated from three different sources, to assess the use of (135)Cs/(137)Cs as an indicator of source of radioactive contamination. Soil samples from the Chernobyl exclusion zone were found to have to be heavily depleted in (135)Cs ((135)Cs/(137)Cs approximately 0.45), indicative of a high thermal neutron flux at the source. Sludge samples from a nuclear waste treatment pond were found to have a (135)Cs/(137)Cs ratio of approximately 1, whereas sediment collected downstream from a nuclear reactor was highly variable in both (137)Cs activity and (135)Cs/(137)Cs ratio. Comparison of these preliminary results of variability in radiocaesium isotope ratios with reports of Pu isotope ratios suggests (135)Cs/(137)Cs similarly varies with fuel and reactor conditions, and may be used to corroborate other methods of characterizing radioactive contamination.

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