A radioecological model with moisture-dependent Kd: Application to 1291 and 79Se natural release to a grassland

Research outputpeer-review


A radioecological model previously developed to simulate chlorine cycling in a Scots pine forest was modified to examine the effect of soil hydrochemical conditions on the fate of 129I and 79Se released to a grassland through natural discharge of contaminated groundwater. To this end, the constant solid-liquid distribution coefficient (Kd) in the original model was replaced by a parametric equation to estimate 129I and 79Se Kd values from soil saturation — as a proxy for soil redox potential — and a set of Kd values determined experimentally under oxic and anoxic conditions. Additionally, the multi-compartment Scots pine tree module was replaced by a two-compartment module to represent 129I and 79Se cycling in grass. Simulations undertaken with the model indicated a considerable effect of soil redox conditions on 129I and 79Se accumulation in the soil column, especially in the saturated subsoil above the water table. The constant Kd overestimated 129I accumulation in the soil in relation to the parametric Kd. In contrast, the constant Kd underestimated 79Se accumulation in the soil. These results have implications for radiological impact assessments, specifically regarding the degree of conservatism in the Kd used in the assessment. In respect of bioavailability to grass, the simulated soil-to-plant transfer factors of 129I and 79Se compared favourably with values reported in the literature for similar soils and plant species, giving confidence in the model performance. The model presented here is a step forward in radioecological modelling as it includes the key processes that drive radionuclide transfers in soil-plant systems and the effect of soil redox conditions on sorption. The model can be readily extended to other cultivated lands and release scenarios to predict radionuclide transfer up the food chain.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107043
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of environmental radioactivity
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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