the emblem of the BSH    

Kara Sea Project


Sources for anthropogenic radioactivity in the Northern Atlantic and in the Arctic Ocean

The sources for radioactivity in the Arctic and in the Northern Atlantic can be summarized as follows:
  • The global atmospheric fallout from the nuclear bomb testing in the 50s and 60s. The radioactivity that was brought out by the overground nuclear bomb testing was diluted in the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere and later spread worldwide as a result of the fallout. The total direct fallout into the Arctic marine environment corresponds to 15 PBq 137Cs. The resulting activity concentration in the sea water is estimated to be between 2 and 3 Bq/m3 137Cs.
  • The discharge of the reprocessing plants Sellafield (England) and La Hague (France). The maximum releases occured in the 70s and have been reduced continually since that time. The radioactivity, that amounted to approx. 30 PBq 137Cs, was dispersed in the North Sea and - strongly diluted - in the Northern Atlantic. Very low levels can be found even in the Arctic Sea.
  • The nuclear fleet of the Russian Republic. The nuclear fleet, that was taken over from the former USSR, mainly consists of many nuclear submarines. The fleet is situated in the surroundings of Murmansk. Some smaller releases of radioactivity from nuclear facilities in this region into the White Sea are observed.
  • The nuclear submarine 'Komsomolets', that sunk in April 1989 south-west of the Bear Island in the Northern Atlantic. The wreck is located in 1680 m depth. It contains one nuclear reactor with an estimated inventory of about 1.5 PBq 90Sr and 2,0 PBq 137Cs and two torpedoes with nuclear warheads amounting about 6.9 kg 239Pu = 16 TBq. No radioactivity was emitted by the wreck yet.
  • The radioactiv waste that was dumped by the former USSR in the Kara Sea.

1 Bq = 1 Becquerel = 1 Decay per second
1 PBq = 1 Peta Becquerel = 1015 Bq
1 TBq = 1 Tera Becquerel = 1012 Bq



To obtain information on a particular subject, you can enter search terms, and all pages containing these terms will be displayed.

Relate search terms by

Print Version

Print page


If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Dr. Jürgen Herrmann or phone +49 40 3190 - 3325


More information on the subject:
MARNET monitoring system

Deutsche Version

 © 2016 Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie Last Update: Apr 19, 2013 6:02:19 PM  
 Print Version Home • Deutsche Version • Contact • Help • Federal Freedom of Information Act • Imprint