Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 285–292 | Cite as

Radiostrontium contamination of soil and vegetation within the Semipalatinsk test site

  • B. J. Howard
  • N. Semioschkina
  • G. Voigt
  • M. Mukusheva
  • J. Clifford
Original Paper


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.


Activity Concentration Chestnut Soil Vegetation Sample Technical Area Coal Mining Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. J. Howard
    • 1
  • N. Semioschkina
    • 2
  • G. Voigt
    • 3
  • M. Mukusheva
    • 4
  • J. Clifford
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyLancaster Environment CentreBailrigg LancasterUK
  2. 2.GSF-Institut für Strahlenschutz NeuherbergGermany
  3. 3.Agency’s Laboratories—SeibersdorfIAEAViennaAustria
  4. 4.National Nuclear Centre of Republic of KazakhstanKurchatovRepublic of Kazakhstan

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