Researchers looking at miniscule levels of plutonium pollution in our soils have made a breakthrough which could help inform future ‘clean up’ operations on land around nuclear power plants, saving time and money. Publishing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers show how they have measured the previously ‘unmeasurable’ and taken a step forward in differentiating between local and global sources of plutonium pollution in the soil. By identifying the isotopic ‘fingerprint’ of trace-level quantities of plutonium in the soil which matched the isotopic fingerprint of the plutonium created by an adjacent nuclear reactor, the research team was able to estimate levels of plutonium in the soil which were attributable to reactor pollution and distinguish this from plutonium from general global pollution. This is important to provide key information to those responsible for environmental assessment and clean up.
EurekAlert 19th March 2021 read more »