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