A study of residual Cesium 137 contamination in southwestern Utah soil following the nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950's and 1960's Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/w0892d12k

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  • The Nevada Test Site (NTS) was the location for at least 100 above ground Nuclear Weapons tests during the 1950's and early 1960's. Radioactive fallout from these tests spread to many areas north and west of the NTS. According to estimates from the NCI and DOE, Washington County, Utah was one of the areas which received some of the highest levels of radioactive contamination from Nuclear Fallout. Cesium 137, a byproduct of Nuclear Fission was one of the nuclides deposited during this fallout period. Cesium 137 has a half life of 30 years and relatively high photon energy so it is easily detected and theoretically would still be present in the soil if it was originally deposited there. A study was conducted using soil samples from the Washington County area to determine if Cesium 137 still exists in the area in detectable amounts. 102 soil samples were collected and analyzed. Only one of the 102 soil samples did not have detectable amounts of Cesium contained within it. Several of the samples contained levels substantially higher than earlier estimates would have predicted. This leads us to conclude that doses to the public from the testing could also have been higher than earlier thought. The area immediately around the community of Enterprise Utah contained the highest contamination readings of the locations we researched. Iron County, Northeast of St George, also had surprisingly high readings considering that the studies we researched stated that Iron County's contamination density was estimated to be lower than most of the areas in Washington County.
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