Radionuclides in Sediment at Nuclear Facilities in Georgia
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As part of its environmental radiological surveillance program, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources monitors man-made radionuclides in sediment below the outfalls of nuclear facilities. Sediment acts as a water contaminant indicator and accumulator, and as a potential source of these contaminants for aquatic biota. Locations in the Chattahoochee R., Savannah R., Altamaha R., Etowah R., and Cumberland Sound have been monitored for up to 20 years. Samples typically are collected once per year at designated stations for analysis of photon- emitting radionuclides and, in some cases, Sr-90 and Pu-239. Most samples contained only naturally occurring radionuclides and some residues of fallout from atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. Reported here are the relatively low levels of radionuclides attributed to facility discharges that occasionally were detected. Results were combined with radionuclide amounts reported in facility effluent and concentrations measured in water and fish to calculate radiation doses to the potential maximally exposed persons. These annual doses by the aquatic pathway were very low in most cases and below the regulatory limits in all cases.