Environmental IntelligenceNEWSRAMONES and NODSSUM: a collaboration for the oceans

31 March 2022

Article by RAMONES partner, Prof. Javier Escartín

A project to investigate the fate of radioactive waste dumped in the North-East Atlantic abyssal plains is the focus of a CNRS Journal article (https://lejournal.cnrs.fr/articles/atlantique-sur-la-piste-des-futs-radioactifs).

NODSSUM plans to deploy a new deep-sea AUV developed by IFREMER (France), Ulyx, and that will be part of the French Oceanographic Fleet, and a remotely operated vehicle VICTOR, during 2 cruises that are programmable from 2023.  The first cruise will map the areas that concentrated ~50% of the radioactive waste dump, with likely up to 200.000 drums or more from the 40’s to the 80’s. Both sonar and optical surveys will provide the distribution and status of barrels, and carry out some preliminary sampling of seawater, sediment, and biota away from the barrels.

Legacy nuclear waste in the ocean
A photo of barrels with legacy nuclear waste in the bottom of Atlantic ocean. NODSSUM and RAMONES will deploy new technologies to monitor their impact on the marine ecosystem and provide new solutions for safer storage in the future

A second cruise will focus on study areas that will be selected based on on the barrel distribution from surveys during the first cruise. At these sites NODSSUM will investigate the distribution and fate of different radionuclides, providing information on both the status of the area and the transferts of radionuclides in the deep sea. These cruises will also provide an opportunity to deploy new instrumentation developed by the EU RAMONES Project (https://ramones-project.eu) in the deep ocean.

This project is led by CNRS, Université de Clermont-Auvergne, and ENS-PSL, with partners from different french institutions (IFREMER, ISRN, GeoAzur, Legos, UCA, U. Anger SUBATECH, GET, U. Lyon) and international ones (U. Athens, U. Girona, U. Bergen, U. Oslo, Memorial U.).