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Health Phys. 2001 May;80(5 Suppl):S89-91.

Radiological impact on the workers, members of the public, and environment from the partial decommissioning of Pakistan Research Reactor-I and its associated radioactive residues.

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The Pakistan Research Reactor-I (PARR-I) is a swimming pool type research reactor originally designed and built for a thermal power of 5 MW using High Enriched Uranium (HEU) fuel. In 1990-1991 the reactor was redesigned, partially decommissioned and recommissioned to operate with Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) fuel at a thermal power of 10 MW. An essential requirement, construction and commissioning of a wet spent fuel storage bay and fabrication of an irradiated fuel transfer cask were completed before actual dismantling of the reactor core. During the partial decommissioning operations, radioactive waste generated included 600 m3 low-level liquid radioactive waste and 14 m3 of solid radioactive waste with an average specific activity of 4.52 Bq ml(-1) and 2.22 kBq g(-1), respectively. External radiation doses of the workers were determined using TLD (NG 6,7) and direct reading dosimeters. The maximum individual external radiation dose received by any worker during this practice was 5 mSv, which was 25% of the annual dose limit of 20 mSv. Detection and measurement of internal contamination was carried out using bioassay techniques. During the whole operation, not a single case of internal contamination was detected. The ambient radiation levels around waste seepage pits are periodically monitored using TLD (G-2 cards) and G. M. radiation survey meters. Underground migration of radioactivity is checked by analyzing seepage water samples taken from boreholes that have been dug at different locations in the vicinity of the radioactive residues. The monitoring around disposal sites containing radioactive residues has been continued during the last 9 y and will be continued in the future. So far, no rise in the environmental gamma radiation dose level and migration of underground radionuclides has been found in the vicinity of these disposal sites. Working personal during the decommissioning of PARR-I have been found to be radiologically safe. Adherence to the ALARA principle, sound decommissioning and proper radioactive waste disposal procedures helped to protect the working personnel, members of the public, and the environment from the harmful effects of the ionizing radiations present due to the partial decommissioning of the research reactor and its radioactive residues. Experience gained during this work, along with the current international procedures, will be helpful for full restoration of the environment from radioactive residues likely to be generated in the future from any other practices in Pakistan.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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