Fuel particles in the Chernobyl cooling pond: current state and prediction for remediation options

A. Bulgakov, A. Konoplev, Jim Smith, G. Laptev, O. Voitsekhovitch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    During the coming years, a management and remediation strategy for the Chernobyl cooling pond (CP) will be implemented. Remediation options include a controlled reduction in surface water level of the cooling pond and stabilisation of exposed sediments. In terrestrial soils, fuel particles deposited during the Chernobyl accident have now almost completely disintegrated. However, in the CP sediments the majority of 90Sr activity is still in the form of fuel particles. Due to the low dissolved oxygen concentration and high pH, dissolution of fuel particles in the CP sediments is significantly slower than in soils. After the planned cessation of water pumping from the Pripyat River to the Pond, significant areas of sediments will be drained and exposed to the air. This will significantly enhance the dissolution rate and, correspondingly, the mobility and bioavailability of radionuclides will increase with time. The rate of acidification of exposed bottom sediments was predicted on the basis of acidification of similar soils after liming. Using empirical equations relating the fuel particle dissolution rate to soil and sediment pH allowed prediction of fuel particle dissolution and 90Sr mobilisation for different remediation scenarios. It is shown that in exposed sediments, fuel particles will be almost completely dissolved in 15–25 years, while in parts of the cooling pond which remain flooded, fuel particle dissolution will take about a century.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)329-332
    Number of pages4
    JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


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