June 1998
Tc-99 results: background information

Site Sampling Date Activity Bq/kg
Dry weight
Nr Stromstad 22/04/98 182
Tungeness Fyr, Nr Stavanger 01/05/98 268
Renn, Nr Egersund 02/05/98 213
Egersund 30/04/98 174
Tungeness Fyr, Nr Stavanger 01/05/98 465
Egersund 30/04/98 354
Nr Hirtshals 04/05/98 53
Nr Esbjerg 04/05/98 10


(1) The vast majority of the Tc-99 detected is likely to come from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant.

Tc-99 in the environment comes from past atomic weapons tests (fallout) and discharges from nuclear reprocessing plants. The ‘background’ level of Tc-99 in seawater from fallout is about 0.005 Bq/m3, which is expected to cause levels in seaweed of less than 1 Bq/kg.

(2) Levels have increased greatly since discharges from Sellafield increased in1994

Discharges of Tc-99 from Sellafield have increased by about 50 times since the early 1990s. Levels of Tc-99 in seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus) were generally below 30Bq/kg (dry weight) on the Norwegian coast at that time.

(3) Levels are expected to increase further in the future

Levels of Tc-99 in seaweed and lobsters near Sellafield were still rising in 1997. Levels in lobster there have reached up to 42 times the European intervention level for food after a nuclear accident. Increases in levels on Nordic coasts are expected to follow increases near Sellafield. Discharges from Sellafield take an estimated 2.5 years to reach the Norwegian coast.



Brown et al (1998), Technetium-99 Contamination in the North Sea and in Norwegian Coastal Areas 1996 and 1997, Norwegian Coastal Protection Authority, StralevernRapport 1998:3.

BNFL (1997), Statutory Environmental Monitoring Programmes, Sellafield, Quarter 2, 1997.

Dahlgaard at al (1995), On the background level of Tc-99, Sr-90 and Cs-137 in the North Atlantic, J. Mar. Sys., 6, 571-778.

Southampton University (1998), Determination of Technetium-99 in marine biota samples.

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