Modelling Environmental Impacts of Cesium-137 Under a Hypothetical Release of Radioactive Waste

Abstract

Waste tanks at the nuclear facility located at Sellafield, UK, represent a nuclear source which could release radionuclides to the atmosphere. A model chain which combines atmospheric transport, deposition as well as riverine transport to sea has been developed to predict the riverine activity concentrations of 137Cs. The source term was estimated to be 9 × 104 TBq of 137Cs, or 1% of the assumed total 137Cs inventory of the HAL (Highly Active Liquid) storage tanks. Air dispersion modelling predicted 137Cs deposition reaching 127 kBq m−2 at the Vikedal catchment in Western Norway. Thus, the riverine transport model predicted that the activity concentration of 137Cs in water at the river outlet could reach 9000 Bq m−3 in the aqueous phase and 1000 Bq kg−1 in solid phase at peak level. The lake and river reaches showed different transport patterns due to the buffering effects caused by dilution and slowing down of water velocity.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centre’s of Excellence funding scheme, Project Number 223268/F50 and Nordforsk Nordic eScience Globalisation Initiative (NeGI) Project 74306 “An open-access generic e-platform for environmental model-building at the river-basin scale”. The work has also been associated with The Research Council of Norway funded CONFIDENCE project (Project Number 291797).

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Correspondence to Yan Lin.

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Lin, Y., Couture, R., Klein, H. et al. Modelling Environmental Impacts of Cesium-137 Under a Hypothetical Release of Radioactive Waste. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 103, 69–74 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-019-02601-5

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Keywords

  • Risk assessment
  • Catchment modelling
  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Radionuclide transport
  • SNAP
  • INCA