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Title: Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Contamination Issues at the Chernobyl Site

Abstract

The destruction of the Unit 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant resulted in the generation of radioactive contamination and radioactive waste at the site and in the surrounding area (referred to as the Exclusion Zone). In the course of remediation activities, large volumes of radioactive waste were generated and placed in temporary near surface waste-storage and disposal facilities. Trench and landfill type facilities were created from 1986 to 1987 in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone at distances 0.5 to 15 km from the NPP site. This large number of facilities was established without proper design documentation, engineered barriers, or hydrogeological investigations and they do not meet contemporary waste-safety requirements. Immediately following the accident, a Shelter was constructed over the destroyed reactor; in addition to uncertainties in stability at the time of its construction, structural elements of the Shelter have degraded as a result of corrosion. The main potential hazard of the Shelter is a possible collapse of its top structures and release of radioactive dust into the environment. A New Safe Confinement (NSC) with a 100-years service life is planned to be built as a cover over the existing Shelter as a longer-term solution. The construction of the NSCmore » will enable the dismantlement of the current Shelter, removal of highly radioactive, fuel-containing materials from Unit 4, and eventual decommissioning of the damaged reactor. More radioactive waste will be generated during NSC construction, possible Shelter dismantling, removal of fuel containing materials, and decommissioning of Unit 4. The future development of the Exclusion Zone depends on the future strategy for converting Unit 4 into an ecologically safe system, i.e., the development of the NSC, the dismantlement of the current Shelter, removal of fuel containing material, and eventual decommissioning of the accident site. To date, a broadly accepted strategy for radioactive waste management at the reactor site and in the Exclusion Zone, and especially for high-level and long-lived waste, has not been developed.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
920527
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-51017
Journal ID: ISSN 0017-9078; HLTPAO; TRN: US0805490
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Health Physics, 93(5):441-451; Journal Volume: 93; Journal Issue: 5
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; ACCIDENTS; CONFINEMENT; CONSTRUCTION; CONTAMINATION; CORROSION; DECOMMISSIONING; DESIGN; DOCUMENTATION; DUSTS; NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS; RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT; RADIOACTIVE WASTES; REACTOR SITES; REMOVAL; SANITARY LANDFILLS; SERVICE LIFE; SHELTERS; STABILITY; WASTE STORAGE; Chernobyl; waste management; Shelter; New Safe Confinement

Citation Formats

Napier, Bruce A., Schmieman, Eric A., and Voitsekhovitch, Oleg V. Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Contamination Issues at the Chernobyl Site. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.1097/01.HP.0000279602.34009.e3.
Napier, Bruce A., Schmieman, Eric A., & Voitsekhovitch, Oleg V. Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Contamination Issues at the Chernobyl Site. United States. doi:10.1097/01.HP.0000279602.34009.e3.
Napier, Bruce A., Schmieman, Eric A., and Voitsekhovitch, Oleg V. 2007. "Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Contamination Issues at the Chernobyl Site". United States. doi:10.1097/01.HP.0000279602.34009.e3.
@article{osti_920527,
title = {Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Contamination Issues at the Chernobyl Site},
author = {Napier, Bruce A. and Schmieman, Eric A. and Voitsekhovitch, Oleg V.},
abstractNote = {The destruction of the Unit 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant resulted in the generation of radioactive contamination and radioactive waste at the site and in the surrounding area (referred to as the Exclusion Zone). In the course of remediation activities, large volumes of radioactive waste were generated and placed in temporary near surface waste-storage and disposal facilities. Trench and landfill type facilities were created from 1986 to 1987 in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone at distances 0.5 to 15 km from the NPP site. This large number of facilities was established without proper design documentation, engineered barriers, or hydrogeological investigations and they do not meet contemporary waste-safety requirements. Immediately following the accident, a Shelter was constructed over the destroyed reactor; in addition to uncertainties in stability at the time of its construction, structural elements of the Shelter have degraded as a result of corrosion. The main potential hazard of the Shelter is a possible collapse of its top structures and release of radioactive dust into the environment. A New Safe Confinement (NSC) with a 100-years service life is planned to be built as a cover over the existing Shelter as a longer-term solution. The construction of the NSC will enable the dismantlement of the current Shelter, removal of highly radioactive, fuel-containing materials from Unit 4, and eventual decommissioning of the damaged reactor. More radioactive waste will be generated during NSC construction, possible Shelter dismantling, removal of fuel containing materials, and decommissioning of Unit 4. The future development of the Exclusion Zone depends on the future strategy for converting Unit 4 into an ecologically safe system, i.e., the development of the NSC, the dismantlement of the current Shelter, removal of fuel containing material, and eventual decommissioning of the accident site. To date, a broadly accepted strategy for radioactive waste management at the reactor site and in the Exclusion Zone, and especially for high-level and long-lived waste, has not been developed.},
doi = {10.1097/01.HP.0000279602.34009.e3},
journal = {Health Physics, 93(5):441-451},
number = 5,
volume = 93,
place = {United States},
year = 2007,
month =
}
  • Radioactive waste management is an important component of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident mitigation and remediation activities of the so-called Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This article describes the localization and characteristics of the radioactive waste present in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and summarizes the pathways and strategy for handling the radioactive waste related problems in Ukraine and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and in particular, the pathways and strategies stipulated by the National Radioactive Waste Management Program. The brief overview of the radioactive waste issues in the ChEZ presented in this article demonstrates that management of radioactive waste resulting from amore » beyond-designbasis accident at a nuclear power plant becomes the most challenging and the costliest effort during the mitigation and remediation activities. The costs of these activities are so high that the provision of radioactive waste final disposal facilities compliant with existing radiation safety requirements becomes an intolerable burden for the current generation of a single country, Ukraine. The nuclear accident at the Fukushima-1 NPP strongly indicates that accidents at nuclear sites may occur in any, even in a most technologically advanced country, and the Chernobyl experience shows that the scope of the radioactive waste management activities associated with the mitigation of such accidents may exceed the capabilities of a single country. Development of a special international program for broad international cooperation in accident related radioactive waste management activities is required to handle these issues. It would also be reasonable to consider establishment of a dedicated international fund for mitigation of accidents at nuclear sites, specifically, for handling radioactive waste problems in the ChEZ. The experience of handling Chernobyl radioactive waste management issues, including large volumes of radioactive soils and complex structures of fuel containing materials can be fairly useful for the entire world's nuclear community and can help make nuclear energy safer.« less
  • The {open_quotes}Cooling Pond{close_quotes} scenario is designed to test models for radioactive contamination of aquatic ecosystems, based on data for contamination of different aquatic media and biota due to fallout of radionuclides into the cooling pond of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Input data include characteristics of the cooling pond ecosystem (hydrological, Hydrochemical, and hydrobiological conditions) and estimates of the amounts of {sup 137}Cs in the cooling pond. Predictions are requested in two stages: (1) calculations for {sup 137}Cs concentrations for comparison against actual measurements, including activities of {sup 137}Cs in the cooling pond water, in sediment layers, and in fish;more » and (2) calculations for which actual measurements are not available, including dose and risk estimates for aquatic biota and for humans following hypothetical consumption of contaminated biota. The latter calculations are intended to provide an opportunity for intercomparison among modelers of their results for a simulated assessment problem 11 refs., 1 fig., 8 tabs.« less
  • Past nuclear activities at SRS have resulted in low level contamination in various wetlands. The wetlands and reservoirs serve a major wintering ground for migratory waterfowl. American coots have the highest level of cesium accumulation among the birds. The concentration has decreased exponentially with a four year half-life. The current levels pose no threat to human consumption.
  • The French nuclear industry has conducted a study to define a policy and an organization to deal with the waste generated from nuclear power plants, the fuel cycle industries, and medicine, research, and other industrial nuclear applications. This has resulted in the introduction of an organization which, by appropriate and responsible management, can guarantee to protect people and the environment while ensuring industrial effectiveness. The body in charge of waste management in France is the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) created in 1979. The French policy is based on waste classification and the related solutions for the evacuation ofmore » these wastes. High-level and long-lived waste management is regulated by a law passed Dec 30, 1991. The law outlines the research program to be conducted. Three main research objectives are prescribed: 1. reduction of the waste volumes and toxicity (partitioning and transmutation); 2. assessment of the waste isolation properties of deep geologic formations by underground research laboratories; 3. development of solidification processes and storage techniques for long-term interim storage in near-surface facilities. This research will be implemented within a 15 yr period. At present, applications are submitted to the authorities for the construction of underground research laboratories. At the end of this period, reports will be submitted to parliament. It will have to choose among various options. The construction of a deep geologic repository, if this option is chosen, will need the passage of a new law.« less
  • As a result of the breakdown of the nation's radioactive waste management system in 1979, Congress has set a 1992 deadline for states to join together in regional compacts to manage and dispose of their own low-level radioactive waste. This article describes the challenges and opportunities associated with developing a new generation of waste management technologies and their institutional infrastructure, and earning the public's confidence in them. It is written from the perspective of the Chair of the Central Midwest Compact (IL-KY) Compact Commission, but the issues are generic. In fact, their resolution is likely to set precedents for themore » way we deal with other hazardous waste in the future.« less