Best practices for predictions of radionuclide activity concentrations and total absorbed dose rates to freshwater organisms exposed to uranium mining-milling

Richard R. Goulet, Newsome Laura, Hildegarde Vandenhove, Dong-Kwon Keum, Jan Horyna, Sunita Kamboj, Justin E. Brown, Matthew P. Johansen, John Twining, Michael D. Wood, Marko Černe, Karine Beaugelin-Seiller, Nicholas A. Beresford

    Research outputpeer-review

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    Predictions of radionuclide dose rates to freshwater organisms can be used to evaluate the radiological environmental impacts of releases from uranium mining and milling projects. These predictions help inform decisions on the implementation of mitigation measures. The objective of this study was to identify how dose rate modelling could be improved to reduce uncertainty in predictions to non-human biota. For this purpose, we modelled the activity concentrations of 210Pb, 210Po, 226Ra, 230Th, and 238U downstream of uranium mines and mills in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, together with associated weighted absorbed dose rates for a freshwater food chain using measured activity concentrations in water and sediments. Differences in predictions of radionuclide activity concentrations occurred mainly from the different default partition coefficient and concentration ratio values from one model to another and including all or only some 238U decay daughters in the dose rate assessments. Consequently, we recommend a standardized best-practice approach to calculate weighted absorbed dose rates to freshwater biota whether a facility is at the planning, operating or decommissioned stage. At the initial planning stage, the best-practice approach recommend using conservative site-specific baseline activity concentrations in water, sediments and organisms and predict conservative incremental activity concentrations in these media by selecting concentration ratios based on species similarity and similar water quality conditions to reduce the uncertainty in dose rate calculations. At the operating and decommissioned stages, the best-practice approach recommends relying on measured activity concentrations in water, sediment, fish tissue and wholebody of small organisms to further reduce uncertainty in dose rate estimates. This approach would allow for more realistic but still conservative dose assessments
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106826
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of environmental radioactivity
    StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

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