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An Aerial Gamma Ray Survey of Torness Nuclear Power Station on 27-30 March 1994

Sanderson, D.C.W., Allyson, J.D., Ni Riain, S., Gordon, G., Murphy, S., and Fisk, S. (1994) An Aerial Gamma Ray Survey of Torness Nuclear Power Station on 27-30 March 1994. Project Report. Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre, Glasgow, UK.

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Abstract

An aerial gamma-ray survey of the environment of Torness Nuclear Power Station was commissioned by Scottish Nuclear Limited, and conducted by the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre. The area surveyed encloses a 31km square, with Torness Nuclear Power Station at the centre, flown with a line spacing of 500m. A secondary area, in closer proximity to the nuclear site, was flown with 250m spacing.

Over 6000 gamma ray spectra were recorded with a high volume spectrometer operated from a helicopter over a three day period in March 1994. Spectral data were recorded together with satellite navigation (GPS) and radar altimetry data. The results provide a comprehensive record of the radiation environment around Torness and have been used to map the distribution of natural and man-made radionuclides, forming a baseline to enable future environmental changes may be assessed.

The natural radionuclides 40K, 214Bi and 208Tl are highly correlated with each other and show a distribution which reflects both the underlying geological and geomorphological features of the area. The main structural boundaries of the Dunbar-Gifford and Lammermuir faults can be partly discerned in the maps, as can some igneous intrusions. Areas with peat or alluvium cover appear as negative features in the radiometric maps.

Radiocaesium 137Cs levels range from below 4 kBq m-2 to over 20 kBq m-2. Upland areas near Coldingham Common, Black Castle Hill and Dunbar Common show the highest values, similar in deposition pattern and level to Chernobyl activity observed in the West of Scotland and elsewhere. Published national maps derived from meteorological and ground sampling data predicted much lower levels for these locations. However core samples taken after the survey have confirmed the presence of the activity, and the attribution to Chernobyl. This finding demonstrates both the effectiveness of the method for rapid location of radioactive deposition, and the need for baseline studies to determine present levels. Count rates from a spectral window corresponding to 60Co were also mapped. The results are close to detection limits and show a slight correlation with natural sources. Therefore they are more probably due to residuals remaining after separation of spectral interferences than to low level 60Co contamination.

Gamma ray dose rates range from approximately 0.1 to 0.6 mGy a-1 with a mean value of 0.34 mGy a-1, and are derived mainly from natural sources. Ground level measurements were taken at nine district monitoring points within the area using a 3x3" NaI spectrometer and a survey meter (Series 6/80) used routinely by SNL. Both ground based data sets were in good agreement with each other and with the aerial survey after accounting for instrumental and cosmic ray background contributions.

There is no evidence that Torness Power Station has affected the surrounding radiation environment, within the operational and sensitivity limits of the aerial survey.

The longer term impact of the site can be assessed by future surveys. Moreover under emergency conditions it would be possible to utilise this method for rapid mapping of the area on a timescale which cannot be matched using alternative approaches.

Item Type:Research Report or Paper (Project Report)
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s):Murphy, Mr Simon and Sanderson, Prof David and Fisk, Dr Saffron
Authors: Sanderson, D.C.W., Allyson, J.D., Ni Riain, S., Gordon, G., Murphy, S., and Fisk, S.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QC Physics
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Publisher:Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 1994 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the authors
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