Evaluation of a tritium irrigation site
Wall, Angel Kelsey
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Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, is a contaminant of concern at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and at other nuclear production facilities. New methods are being employed on SRS to dispose of tritium, including the irrigation of forests with tritiated water. A field study was performed to determine the tritium concentrations of rodents living within the irrigation site, and to examine the tritium dynamics within. In addition, a laboratory experiment was designed to determine the biological-half life of tritium in mice, mimicking environmental exposure. The possibility of metabolic stress resulting from exposure to low-level ß-radiation was examined with oxidative-stress induced enzymes: catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. The biological half-life of tritium was determined to be 2.26 days and, based on enzyme activities, there were no indications of oxidative stress induction. This study concludes that land application is an effective and low-risk method for the disposal of tritium.