Short lived radionuclide modeling from nuclear weapons test sites and nuclear power plant accidents



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Nuclear accidents and weapons tests are monitored by a worldwide network of air sensors, seismic detectors and several other techniques. At the site of the incident, contaminants are distributed and can provide insight into the time of the incident and type of incident. That information can then be used to affect policy decisions or better understand health risks. In order to evaluate a post nuclear test scenario, we must better understand the background readings at potential test sites where false positive or false negative allegations are more likely (e.g. the Nevada Test Site, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plate, etc.) Data from these sites have been compiled and compared to high purity germanium detector background readings and activities from a hypothetical nuclear weapon test. The results indicate that the following nuclides would be the best indicator of a recent nuclear test: ⁸⁹Sr, ⁹¹Y, ⁹⁵Zr, ¹⁰³Ru, ¹²⁶Sb, ¹²⁹[superscript m]Te, ¹⁴⁷Nd, ¹⁵⁶Eu. Nuclides such as ⁹¹Sr or ⁹⁷Zr have a steady state concentration due to plutonium spontaneous fission thus would not be a good indication of a recent nuclear test.