Impact of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) plantings on long term (137)Cs and (90)Sr recycling from a waste burial site in the Chernobyl Red Forest

J Environ Radioact. 2009 Dec;100(12):1062-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 Jun 13.


Plantings of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) on a waste burial site in the Chernobyl Red Forest was shown to greatly influence the long term redistribution of radioactivity contained in sub-surfaces trenches. After 15 years of growth, aboveground biomass of the average tree growing on waste trench no.22 had accumulated 1.7 times more (137)Cs than that of trees growing off the trench, and 5.4 times more (90)Sr. At the scale of the trench and according to an average tree density of 3300 trees/ha for the study zone, tree contamination would correspond to 0.024% of the (137)Cs and 2.52% of the (90)Sr contained in the buried waste material. A quantitative description of the radionuclide cycling showed a potential for trees to annually extract up to 0.82% of the (90)Sr pool in the trench and 0.0038% of the (137)Cs. A preferential (90)Sr uptake from the deep soil is envisioned while pine roots would take up (137)Cs mostly from less contaminated shallow soil layers. The current upward flux of (90)Sr through vegetation appeared at least equal to downward loss in waste material leaching as reported by Dewiere et al. (2004, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 74, 139-150). Using a prospective calculation model, we estimated that maximum (90)Sr cycling can be expected to occur at 40 years post-planting, resulting in 12% of the current (90)Sr content in the trench transferred to surface soils through biomass turnover and 7% stored in tree biomass. These results are preliminary, although based on accurate methodology. A more integrated ecosystem study leading to the coupling between biological and geochemical models of radionuclide cycling within the Red Forest seems opportune. Such a study would help in the adequate management of that new forest and the waste trenches upon which they reside.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cesium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pinus sylvestris / chemistry
  • Pinus sylvestris / radiation effects*
  • Power Plants
  • Radioactive Fallout / analysis*
  • Radioactive Hazard Release
  • Refuse Disposal
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive / metabolism*
  • Strontium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Trees
  • Ukraine


  • Cesium Radioisotopes
  • Radioactive Fallout
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Strontium Radioisotopes