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Measurement of long-lived Radionuclide Tracers in the Marine Environment

Project Number: ISR/2/015

Duration: 2001-2002

OBJECTIVES

To develop accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) based analytical methods for the long-lived radioisotopes to study the pollutant transport in the Israeli Mediterranean coastal environment.

BACKGROUND

Previous studies on the pollution load entering the coastal zone of Israel and the contribution of the main polluting sources have provided some information on the nitrogen and phosphorus based pollutants, and the heavy metal and organic industrial loads introduced mainly through the Kishon River and the Gush Dan sewage sludge out-fall located 5 km off central Israel. Measurements of natural long-lived radionuclides in the water column of the Dead Sea, sediment cores of Dead Sea floor and the halite deposit the Sedom formation, are expected to bring new interesting information on the geophysical history of the area. Measurement of the cosmogenic radionuclide 10Be can, for example, provide useful information on lake and sea sediments geochronologies, exposure age, burial etc. It is planned to carry out the measurements of cosmogenic 10Be as well as other nuclides, like 129I, U and Pu isotopes, in the South Mediterranean and the Dead Sea as a means to study the transport of pollutants in the Israeli marine environment. The measurements will be carried out using the accelerator mass spectrometry technique, already available at the Soreq Nuclear Research Centre in Israel. The collection of samples and other field work will be carried out in collaboration with the National Institute of Oceanography.

NATIONAL COMMITMENT

Scientific and technical staff. Laboratory space and infrastructure. Financial resources amounting to US$ 650,000 will be made available over the two years to cover the cost of accelerator improvement and for other necessary operating costs.

AGENCY INPUT

Expert services for the development of gas stripper for AMS, samples preparation for analysis, collection of marine samples; scientific visit in the field of marine environmental radioactivity; some essential equipment such as gas stripper parts, data acquisition system and AMS detector electronics.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Upgraded capability of the AMS laboratory for the analysis of very low levels of long lived radioisotopes. Applying such measurements for studying the fate of pollutants in the marine environment.

PROJECT IMPACT

For countries along the Mediterranean coast, the contamination of the marine environment with heavy elements and organic pollutants is a serious problem. The study of this problem through the application of the most sensitive analytical method (AMS) to the detection of radionuclide tracers can offer an insight into the sources, transport and ultimate fate of pollutants in the marine environment. This will make a positive contribution to the national programme for better environmental control and monitoring.