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J Environ Radioact. 2016 Dec;165:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2016.08.015. Epub 2016 Aug 28.

Impacts on the terrestrial environment in case of a hypothetical accident involving the recovery of the dumped Russian submarine K-27.

Author information

1
Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, Department of Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Radioactivity, Grini næringspark 13 Postbox 55, NO-1332, Østerås, Norway. Electronic address: Justin.brown@nrpa.no.
2
Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, Department of Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Radioactivity, Grini næringspark 13 Postbox 55, NO-1332, Østerås, Norway.
3
Norwegian Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 43, Blindern, NO-0313, Oslo, Norway.

Abstract

Objects containing radioactivity have been routinely dumped in Arctic waters near NW Russia up until the 1990s. One of the most radioactive objects in this region, the nuclear submarine K-27, was dumped in Stepogovo Fjord and contained spent nuclear fuel (SNF). Although the two K-27 submarine reactors were mothballed before dumping, concerns about the potential long term risks of contamination remain and plans to retrieve and decommission K-27 exist. In this article, human dose and environmental impact aseessments are presented for two possible future scenarios involving: (1) an ingress of water into a reactor in situ leading to a spontaneous chain reaction (SCR) and (2) an on-board fire when SNF is being removed at the mainland decommissiong site at Gremhika Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Assessments have been completed using conservative assumptions, focusing on possible effects to Norwegian territory. Atmospheric transport and deposition of radioactivity was modelled near field and regionally, using appropriate models, whilst human doses and environmental exposures were modelled using a standard IAEA approach and the ERICA tool, respectively. Results indicate that large areas of Norwegian territory could be affected by fallout from the Gremhika scenario, especially in the north, though at levels two orders of magnitude lower than those observed after the Chernobyl accident. Potential doses, primarily due to ground shine, to a critical group of personnel on-site at Stepogovo resulting from a SCR could require preventative measures based on ICRP recommendations (20-100 mSv). Doses to non-human biota in Norway for the Gremhika scenario would be negligible, typical of background dose rates for terrestrial organisms.

KEYWORDS:

Atmospheric release; Criticality; Dose assessment; Human and non-human; Submarine

PMID:
27573758
DOI:
10.1016/j.jenvrad.2016.08.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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