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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Erosional Removal of Fallout Plutonium from a Large Midwestern Watershed1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 7 No. 2, p. 175-177
    Received: June 1, 1977

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  1. Douglas G. Sprugel and
  2. Gordon E. Bartelt2



The Great Miami River at Sidney, Ohio, drains a 1,401-km2 watershed which is generally flat and predominantly agricultural. Samples of river water collected over a wide range of flow and sediment loading conditions showed that the concentrations of 239,240Pu in filtered water and suspended sediment were fairly constant, with means of 0.15 fCi/liter for water and 14 fCi/g for suspended sediment. Plutonium concentrations in suspended sediment are somewhat higher than plow-layer soil concentrations, probably due to settling of larger soil particles in ponds and backwaters in the upper reaches of the river.

Annual plutonium transport from the watershed by erosion averages 1.2 mCi, or 0.9 pCi/m2, which is about 0.05% of the total plutonium in the watershed soil. The primary mechanism for plutonium removal is erosion of small soil particles to which the element is sorbed.

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