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Abstract

Chlorine-36 has been produced in large amounts by hundreds of nuclear explosions on the Nevada Test Site as well as 12 off-site explosions at eight locations in five states. Continued monitoring of the redistribution of radionuclides by subsurface water is of concern in most of the areas affected by the detonations. Chlorine-36 has the following advantages as a built-in tracer for this redistribution: its mobility is equal to or greater than water, its long half-life assures its continued usefulness over long periods, collection and storage of samples is simple, it is not subject to vapor transport at ordinary temperatures, its natural background is very low, and it does not form insoluble precipitates. Chlorine-36 from the Gnome event near Carlsbad, New Mexico, illustrates how 36C1 can be used to help study the redistribution of radionuclides in the soil profile. Chlorine-36 is also potentially useful as a tracer to study movement of contaminants around large nuclear reactor complexes and near respositories for radioactive waste.