Assessment of Tc-99 monitoring within the western Irish Sea using a numerical model

Olbert, Agnieszka Indiana
Hartnett, Michael
Dabrowski, Tomasz
Olbert, AI,Hartnett, M,Dabrowski, T (2010) 'Assessment of Tc-99 monitoring within the western Irish Sea using a numerical model'. Science Of The Total Environment, 408 :3671-3682.
Water circulation patterns and associated material transport within a highly dynamic system such as the Irish Sea are complex phenomena. Although Tc-99 monitoring programme undertaken by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland provides a good insight to the material distribution on the east coast of Ireland, transport patterns within the Irish Sea have not been fully explored. In this study a validated transport model was used to hindcast transport of Tc-99 discharged from the Sellafield plant to determine extents of Tc-99 migration within the Irish Sea and reassess transit times to east coast of Ireland. Transit times are also estimated within a context of changes in meteorological conditions and fluctuations in discharges. Additionally, seasonal and inter-annual circulation patterns were examined.Relationships between discharge times and timing of far field concentrations are highly variable and are dependant on sea dynamics controlling the accumulation and removal of Tc-99 mass. Transport towards the Irish east coast, and consequently transit times, vary intra- and inter-annually, and depend on the prevailing hydrodynamic conditions resulting from meteorological conditions. The transit times from Sellafield to Balbriggan fall within the wide range of 30-240 days; with summer releases resulting in the shortest transit times. The model also indicated a strong relationship between summer concentration peaks on the east coast of Ireland and the strength of the Western Irish Gyre. Sudden increases of Tc-99 concentrations at Balbriggan coincide with peak of sea surface temperatures when the gyre is strongest and when advection is fastest. The adequacy of the current radionuclide monitoring programme within the western Irish Sea is evaluated, and recommendations are made for the development of a more optimised monitoring programme. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland