Sequential extraction of 226Ra in sediments from an estuary affected historically by anthropogenic inputs of natural radionuclides


Riverbed sediments from an estuary historically affected by wastes discharged by several phosphate fertiliser plants and enriched in uranium-series radionuclides were operationally speciated using a Tessier-based method. In each selective fraction the 226Ra content was determined by alpha-particle spectrometry after radiochemical isolation and electrodeposition onto stainless steel planchets.

These studies were performed in 226Ra-polluted estuarine sediments collected one year after anthropogenic discharges had ceased in order to obtain useful information about the operational forms in which this radionuclide remains associated with the sediments at this time. The results obtained revealed that one year after 226Ra inputs had stopped, the radionuclide was associated mostly with the more refractory forms. Consequently, it is possible to foresee little potential remobilisation of 226Ra contamination from sediments to the aqueous phase in the future under normal environmental conditions.