Radionuclides Transport in the Irtysh-Ob’ Basin
Analysis of Radionuclides Transport and Assessment of Radiation Risk for the Population and Environment in the Basin of the Irtysh-Ob’ River System
Tech Area / Field
- ENV-RED/Remediation and Decontamination/Environment
- ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment
- OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences
8 Project completed
Senior Project Manager
Rudneva V Ya
Russian Academy of Sciences / Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russia, Moscow
- Scientific & Production Association “Typhoon”, Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk
- University of Georgia / Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, USA, SC, Aiken\nENEA, Italy, Rome\nSENES Oak Ridge Inc. / Center for Risk Analysis, USA, TN, Oak Ridge
Project summaryProject objective
The need for an integrated radioecological survey and radioecological monitoring in the basin of the Irtysh-Ob’ river system is associated with the fact that a large amount of radioactivity has been discharged as a result of the Mayak operations to the river Techa forming part of the Techa -Ob’ system. As of now, radionuclides continue to enter the river mainly through the activity transport from the bogged floodplain of the Techa river. One of the major concerns is a possibility of global contamination of the river system Techa-Iset’-Tobol-Irtysh-Ob’ and entrance of radionuclides to the Kara sea as a result of an accidental breakthrough of the protection hydraulic structures of the Techa cascade of reservoirs. Another source of radionuclides for this river system are the discharges of the Siberian Chemical Combine.
The project aims at analysis of the radionuclides transport and estimating radiation risk for the public and environment in the basin of the river system Irtysh-Ob’ which includes conducting an integrated radioecological survey of the river ecosystem, bioindication of radionuclides accumulation and migration, development and validation of a radioecological model of hydrological and biogenic transport of radionuclides, prediction of radionuclides dynamics and distribution in the river ecosystem, estimating doses and radiation risk for critical population groups and reference biota species.
State of the art
By now a large amount of studies have been carried out of the impact of the Mayak plant discharges on the radioactive contamination of the Techa in the vicinity of the radioactivity source. For greater distances (Tobol-Irtysh-Ob’), however, data of systematic observations are virtually unavailable. In 2004-2005 within the ISTC project 2558 specialists from SPA “Typhoon” and Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution obtained first experimental data about the concentrations of strontium-90, cesium-137, tritium and plutonium-239, 240 in the components of the Tobol-Irtysh part of the river system. The impact of the transport of radioactive waters of the Techa on the radioactivity levels in the Iset’ and Tobol was traced down, being more distinct for strontium-90 and less pronounced for tritium.
Preliminary results of the ISTC project 2558 leads us to the conclusion that the radioecological studies should be enhanced and extended to include the river system Irtysh-Ob’, scientific and methodological principles need be developed for continuous radioecological monitoring of the river system and its link with the emergency response system based on analysis and prediction of radiation risk for the public and living organisms. These are precisely the objectives of the proposed project.
Impact of the project on the progress in the area of interest
The project is crucial for gaining better fundamental knowledge of mechanisms of biogenic migration of radionuclides and for implementing specific goals towards developing regional radioecological monitoring and estimating radiation risk in the basin of the Irtysh-Ob’, as well as predicting behavior of radioactive pollutants in the environment.
Competence of project participants
The project will be implemented by scientists and specialists of the Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution of RAS and SPA “Typhoon” of Roshydromet together with specialists from the Kurchatov Institute and the Tobol Biological Station.
The leading organization under the project is the Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution, one of the key institutes in the country in radioecology. Specialists and scientists of this institute were engaged in the studies of the impact of nuclear weapons on living organisms, were active in the investigation of radiobiological and radioecological consequences of the radiation accident in the Southern Urals and the Chernobyl radiation accident They were developing methods for bioindication of environmental contamination and have ample experience in working within international projects, such as the ISTC project 2558 and CEC projects (ECP-3), as well as collaborating with the USA in the studies of the Chernobyl radionuclides transport in the rivers.
SPA “Typhoon” of Roshydromet is the lead organization in Russia in environmental radiation monitoring. The specialists and scientists of the Institute were involved in the studies of the impact of nuclear weapons testing on the environment, took part in investigating radioecological consequences of the radiation accidents at the Mayak and Chernobyl, radioactive discharges to the Techa and Yenisey, development and validation of ecogeographical models of radionuclides transport in environmental components and estimating radiation risk, have been involved in numerous international projects such as the projects of the ISTC (85, 1404, 2558), IAEA (VAMP, BIOMOVS, BIOMAS, EMRAS) and CEC (ARCTCMAR, EPIC).
Expected results and their application
Implementation of the project will yield the following results
- A database with experimental data on radionuclides concentrations in the components of the river system Irtysh-Ob’ will be created.
- Bioindicators of radionuclides transport and accumulation in the rivers will be identified.
- A radioecological model for radionuclides transport in the river system Irtysh-Ob’ will be developed, ecogeographical and ecophysical characteristics of radionuclides transport and accumulation in the components of biohydrocenosis will be determined.
- Estimates of radiation risk will be derived for critical population groups and reference environmental species under normal conditions and in emergency.
- Scientific and methodological principles for radioecological monitoring in the basin of the Irtysh-Ob’ river system will be developed and linked to the emergency response system.
Project results are planned to be used for emergency and long-term prediction of radionuclides transport in the river system Irtysh-Ob’ and analysis of radiation risk for the public and environment. Application of the results can be related to radioecological prognosis and developing the radiation monitoring and decision-making systems to ensure radiation and ecological safety in the existing contaminated areas and future possible contaminated sites in Russia and other countries.
The thrust of the project is in line with the ISTC objectives to support fundamental and applied studies, especially those related with environmental protection. Collaborative work under the project with scientists from the UK, USA and other countries will contribute to strengthening links between scientific teams from Russia and international community.
Scope of activities
- Conducting field studies to determine concentrations of radionuclides in the components of the river system Irtysh-Ob’, setting up a computer database with radioecological data for the study area.
- Estimating parameters of radionuclides migration and accumulation in the river ecosystem.
- Development and validation of a radioecological model for radionuclides transport in the river ecosystem, estimation and prediction of the radioecological situation at normal conditions and under the scenario of hypothetical accidental contamination of the environment.
- Analysis of radiation and other types of risk for the population and environment in the basin of the Irtysh-Ob’.
- Development of scientific and methodological recommendations how to develop radioecological monitoring and relate it to the emergency response system in the catchment areas of the Irtysh-Ob’.
Technical approaches and methodology
The specified goals will be achieved through scientific studies including the radioecological survey of the Irtysh-Ob’ basin, bioindication of radioactive contamination levels, determination of ecogeographical and ecophysiological parameters of the radioecological model of radionuclides transport in rivers, estimation and prediction of radiation risk, and scientific and methodological justification of regional radioecological monitoring.
As part of development and validation of a radioecological model, fundamental ecophysiological characteristics of metabolism of living organisms will be determined to be used for predicting radionuclides transport in the river ecosystem.
An important feature of the project is using the risk analysis methodology, both for estimating potential radiological consequences for the population and radiation exposure of environmental species, and further development of this methodology and its application to non- radiation risk sources (chemical pollutants, biological risk from parasitic diseases of living organisms).
Foreign collaborators will be involved in discussions of the program for radioecological survey of the river system, exchange of radioecological information and its analysis in the course of the project implementation, analysis of results of experimental studies, modeling of radionuclides transport and estimating radiation risk, sharing experience in developing scientific and methodological principles of regional radioecological monitoring. Project participants will benefit from the assistance and support of foreign collaborators and will appreciate their contribution.