Ecosystem uptake and transfer of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) part 2: the west of Scotland

Kieran M. Tierney, Graham K.P. Muir, Gordon T. Cook, Gillian MacKinnon, John A. Howe, Johanna J. Heymans, David J. Hughes, Sheng Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Ecosystem uptake and transfer of Sellafield-derived radiocarbon (14C) were examined within the West of Scotland marine environment. The dissolved inorganic carbon component of seawater, enriched in14C, is transported to the West of Scotland where it is transferred through the marine food web. Benthic and pelagic biota with variable life-spans living in the North Channel and Clyde Sea show comparable14C activities. This suggests that mixing of14C within the Irish Sea results in a relatively constant northwards dispersal of activity. Benthic species in the Firth of Lorn have similar14C enrichments, demonstrating that Irish Sea residual water is the dominant source to this area. Measured14C activities in biota show some similarity to western Irish Sea activities, indicating that dispersion to the West of Scotland is significant with respect to the fate of Sellafield14C releases. Activities measured in commercially important species do not pose any significant radiological risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
Early online date26 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017


  • marine ecosystem
  • radiocarbon (14C)
  • Sellafield
  • West of Scotland
  • aquatic ecosystems

Cite this