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Prediction of Radioactive Escape from Karachai


Development of Prediction Models for Radioactive Contamination Escape from the Karachai Lake Based upon Modern Data on the Site Geological Structure

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-WDS/Waste Disposal/Environment

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Kulikov G G

Leading Institute
IGEM (Geology & Mineralogy), Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Gidrospetsgeologiya, Russia, Moscow\nInstitute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russia, Moscow\nNPO Mayak, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Oziorsk


  • Royal Institute of Technology / Shool of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Sweden, Stockholm\nBritish Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), UK, Chesire, Risley Warrington

Project summary

The objective of this project is to develop prediction models for radioactive contaminant propagation from the Karachai lake. The tasks of the project are specified on the basis of the recently obtained new geological data which essentially amplify and refine understanding of the nature of transport medium and of the dynamics of contaminant migration in the underground water flow.

The proposed research is a direct extension of before performed and currently carried on with the financial support of the ISTC research activities. With regard to retraining activities, the objective of the project is to train former weapons specialists in knowledge and skills, which are necessary for collaboration in the project implementation and would provide background for dealing with the other radioecological problems.

Karachai lake located within the PA "Mayak" industrial zone was used for many years as a storage pool for liquid radioactive waste. The total amount of radioactivity dumped into the lake reaches 120 MCi. Infiltration of radioactive water from the bearing horizon has an intricately shaped relief that is not well studied yet. As one of the main mechanisms contributing to contaminant transport in the underground water flow is density (concentration) driven convection, the relief of these surfaces, and especially of the aquifer bottom surface, exerts strong influence on radionuclide transport by the underground water flow, what implies that it should be taken into account in development of reliable prediction models.

The given above considerations infer that there is a reason enough to work out a more sophisticated model for radioactive contamination escape from the Karachai lake. This model being developed with the allowance for incorporation of the recently obtained data on the flow domain structure and conditions of contaminated solutions migration will permit to make reliable prediction of contaminant propagation and provide a base for advancing measures for diminishing the hazard of the further pollution of the environment at the PA "Mayak" site and adjacent territories.

The proposed project is of importance not only for resolving the site-specific rehabilitation problems at the South-Ural region of Russia. The contaminated underground water plume under the Karachai lake presents a unique opportunity for investigation of the large-scale transport of radionuclides by the underground water flow and, from this point of view, results obtained from the project could be of use for developing scientific basis for safety assessment of high level nuclear waste disposal in Russia, as well as in other countries with the developed nuclear industry. Representatives of the UK, USA, have showed interest in collaboration and obtaining results from the project. France. Sweden and China scientific and scientific-industrial institutions. The British Nuclear Fuels pic (UK) and leading scientists from the Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA) and Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden) have expressed willingness to participate in the scientific research performed under the project.