Radioisotope contaminations from releases of the Tomsk-Seversk nuclear facility (Siberia, Russia)

F. Gauthier-Lafaye, L. Pourcelot, J. Eikenberg, H. Beer, G. Le Roux, L. P. Rhikvanov, P. Stille, Ph Renaud, A. Mezhibor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Soils have been sampled in the vicinity of the Tomsk-Seversk facility (Siberia, Russia) that allows us to measure radioactive contaminations due to atmospheric and aquatic releases. Indeed soils exhibit large inventories of man-made fission products including 137Cs (ranging from 33,000 to 68,500 Bq m-2) and actinides such as plutonium (i.e. 239+240Pu from 420 to 5900 Bq m-2) or 241Am (160-1220 Bq m-2). Among all sampling sites, the bank of the Romashka channel exhibits the highest radioisotope concentrations. At this site, some short half-life gamma emitters were detected as well indicating recent aquatic discharge in the channel. In comparison, soils that underwent atmospheric depositions like peat and forest soils exhibit lower activities of actinides and 137Cs. Soil activities are too high to be related solely to global fallout and thus the source of plutonium must be discharges from the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) plant. This is confirmed by plutonium isotopic ratios measured by ICP-MS; the low 241Pu/239Pu and 240Pu/239Pu atomic ratios with respect to global fallout ratio or civil nuclear fuel are consistent with weapons grade signatures. Up to now, the influence of Tomsk-Seversk plutonium discharges was speculated in the Ob River and its estuary. Isotopic data from the present study show that plutonium measured in SCC probably constitutes a significant source of plutonium in the aquatic environment, together with plutonium from global fallout and other contaminated sites including Tomsk, Mayak (Russia) and Semipalatinsk (Republic of Kazakhstan). It is estimated that the proportion of plutonium from SCC source can reach 45% for 239Pu and 60% for 241Pu in the sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-693
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Ob-Irtysh catchment
  • Plutonium isotopes
  • Radioisotope
  • Soil contamination
  • Tomsk-Seversk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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