Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Radiostrontium contamination of soil and vegetation within the Semipalatinsk test site

Abstract

The Semipalatinsk nuclear test site (STS) in the Republic of Kazakhstan was an important site for testing atomic bombs and other civil and military nuclear devices of the former Soviet Union. Results are presented from investigations on the extent of radiostrontium contamination in soils and vegetation at the technical areas of the STS, where the tests were conducted and in pastures used by farmers for grazing animals or for hay production. Our data are compared with those reported largely in the recent Russian language literature that has been reviewed. The extent of 90Sr contamination of soil is highly variable over the STS with the highest values associated with the technical areas, particularly the Degelen mountains. Recently measured values in both the present data and the Russian language literature confirm the relatively high current contamination of soil and vegetation in the vicinity of tunnels and associated watercourses in the Degelen area. The proportion of 90Sr in soil which could not be extracted with 6 M HCl was only an average of 20%, which is low compared to other test site areas and possibly indicates a relatively high mobility in this area, because the 90Sr is derived from leakage from explosion tunnels along watercourses rather than being associated with fused silicates. A comparison of relative activity concentrations in soil and vegetation suggests that the transfer of 90Sr to vegetation on the STS is high compared to that of 137Cs and plutonium.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. 1.

    Michailov VN (1996) USSR Nuclear Weapon Tests and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions 1949 through 1990. Russian Federation Nuclear Center VNIEF, Sarov

  2. 2.

    Dubasov Yu, Matuzhenko AM, Filonov NP, Kharitonov KV, Chernyshev AK (1993) Semipalatinsk Test Site: the radiological consequences (in Russian). Bulletin of the Centre of Public Information in the Field of Nuclear Energy, Special Issue, Moscow

  3. 3.

    Logachov VA (2000) Nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk test site and their environmental impact (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:9–14

  4. 4.

    Dubasov UV, Krivohatskij AS, Kharitonov KV, Gorin VV (1994) Radioactive contamination of the Semipalatinsk province ground and adjacent territories of the region after atmospheric nuclear test in 1949–1962 in remediation and restoration of radioactively contaminated sites in Europe. Document XI-5027/94. European Commission, Luxembourg

  5. 5.

    Rozensen R, Gusev B, Hoshi M, Satow Y (1996) A brief summary of results of radiation studies on residents in the Semipalatinsk area, 1957–1993. In: S Nagataki, S Yamashita (eds) Radiation and human health: proposal from Nagasaki. Proc Nagasaki Symposium Elsevier, Amsterdam

  6. 6.

    Izrael Yu (1974) Peaceful nuclear bursts and environment (in Russian). Hydrometioizdat, Leningrad

  7. 7.

    Semioschkina N, Voigt G, Mukusheva M, Bruk G, Travnikova I, Strand P (2004) Assessment of the current internal dose due to137Cs and 90Sr for people living within the Semipalatinsk test site, Kazakhstan. Health Phys 86:187–192

  8. 8.

    Voigt G, Semiochkina N (eds) (1998) Initial evaluation of the radioecological situation at the Semipalatinsk test site in the republic of Kazakhstan. GSF Report 10/98, GSF Neuherberg

  9. 9.

    Voigt G, Semiochkina N (eds.) (2000) Restoration strategies for radioactively contaminated ecosystems. GSF Report 08/00, GSF Neuherberg

  10. 10.

    National Nuclear Centre of Republic of Kazakhstan (2000) Ecological routes of radionuclide migration connected with the nuclear tests conducted on the Semipalatinsk test site. Final Report of the ISTC project K54

  11. 11.

    National Nuclear Centre of Republic of Kazakhstan (2000) Characterisation of radiological and non-radiological contaminants of the Semipalatinsk test site. Final Report of the ISTC project K53

  12. 12.

    Tuleubaev BA, Zharikov SK (2001) Radioactive contamination of soil-vegetation cover in some southern areas Semipalatinsk test site (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:95–100

  13. 13.

    Croudace IW, Warwick PE, Taylor RN, Dee SJ (1998) Rapid procedure for plutonium and uranium determination in soils using a borate fusion followed by ion-exchange and extraction chromatography. Anal Chim Acta 371:217–225

  14. 14.

    Dubasov Yu (1997) Actual radiological situation on the former Semipalatinsk test site and around (in Russian). Radiochimiya 39:80–88

  15. 15.

    Artermyev OI, Kairmbaev CK, Ptitskaya LD, Strilchuk YuG, Umarov MA (2002) A radiological study of Semipalatinsk Test Site northern part (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:19–24

  16. 16.

    Kadyrzhanov K, Khazhekber C, Kazachevsky IV, Solodukhin VP, Lukashenko SN (2000) Features of conmposition, its revealed forms and allocation at different SNTS platforms (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:15–22

  17. 17.

    Tuleubaev BA, Artemev OI, Luk’yznova YuA, Sidorich TV, Silkina GP, Kurmanbaeva DS (2001) Strontium-90 and plutonium-239/240 accumulation and distribution in soil-vegetative cover of some Semipalatinsk test site areas (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:101–104

  18. 18.

    Shebell P, Hutter A (1995) Environmental radiation measurements at the former Soviet Union’s Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and surrounding villages. Report to the mission leader. IAEA, Vienna

  19. 19.

    Artemyev OI, Akhmetov MA, Ptitskaya LD (2000) The radiation contamination of Semipalatinsk test site territory due to atmospheric nuclear tests (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:29–33

  20. 20.

    Dubasov Yu (2003) Radionuclides migration from nuclear testing tunnels in Degelen mountains of the former Semipalatinsk test site. In: International conference on radioactivity in the environment, 2002, Monaco. NRPA Oslo, pp 290–295

  21. 21.

    Artemyev OI, Akhmetov MA, Ptitskaya L (2001) Radioactive contamination of former Semipalatinsk test site area (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:12–20

  22. 22.

    Deriglasov VN, Safonov FF, Smagulov SG, Yurchenko TI (1993) Radiation hygiene situation at the region of Semipalatinsk Test Site (in Russian). Bulletin of the Centre of Public Information in the Field of Nuclear Energy, Special edition, Moscow

  23. 23.

    Ptitskaya LD (2002) Present radiation situation at the Balapan test field of the former Semipalatinsk test site (in Russian). NNC RK Bulletin. Radioecol Environ Prot 3:11–18

  24. 24.

    Gastberger M, Steinhausler F, Gerzabek M, Hubner A, Lettner H (2000)90Sr and 137Cs in environmental samples from Dolon near the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Health Phys 79:257–265

  25. 25.

    Hille R, Hill P, Bouisset P, Calmet D, Kluson J, Seisibaev A, Smagulov S (1998) Population dose near the Semipalatinsk test site. Radiat Environ Biophys 37:143–149

  26. 26.

    Izrael Yu, Stukin E, Zaturov Yu (1994) On the possibility for identification of radioactive patterns from nuclear explosions and for reconstruction of population exposure doses using long-lived radionuclide analysis (in Russian). Meteorol Gidrol 12:5–14

  27. 27.

    Kazachevskiy IV, Solodukhin VP, Khajekber S, Smirin LN, Chumikov GN, Lukashenko SN (1998) Some aspects of determination of radionuclides at the former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 235:145–149

  28. 28.

    Larson K (1963) Continental close-in fallout: its history, measurement and characteristics. In: Schulz V, Klement AW (eds) Radioecology. Reinhold, New York, pp 19–25

  29. 29.

    Neel JW, Larson KH (1963) Biological availability of90Sr to small native animals in fallout patterns from the Nevada test site. In: Schulz V, Klement AW (eds) Radioecology. Reinhold New York, pp 45–49

  30. 30.

    IAEA (1994) Handbook of parameter values for the prediction of radionuclide transfer in temperate environments. Technical report series 364. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna

  31. 31.

    Crout NMJ, Beresford NA, Howard BJ (1993) Does soil adhesion matter when predicting radiocaesium transfer to animals? J Environ Radioact 20:201–212

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the various participants from the EC projects, RESTORE. (F14P-CT95–0021C) and RECLAIM (ERB IC15-CT96–0209) and the associated ISTC projects ISTC K53 and 54. They would also like to thank Cath Barnett for assistance in evaluation.

Author information

Correspondence to B. J. Howard.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Howard, B.J., Semioschkina, N., Voigt, G. et al. Radiostrontium contamination of soil and vegetation within the Semipalatinsk test site. Radiat Environ Biophys 43, 285–292 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00411-004-0261-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Activity Concentration
  • Chestnut Soil
  • Vegetation Sample
  • Technical Area
  • Coal Mining Area