Environmental risks of radioactive discharges from a low-level radioactive waste disposal site at Dessel, Belgium

    Research outputpeer-review


    The potential radiological impact of releases from a low-level radioactive waste (Category A waste) repository in Dessel, Belgium on the local fauna and flora was assessed under a reference scenario for gradual leaching. The potential impact situations for terrestrial and aquatic fauna and flora considered in this study were soil contamination due to irrigation with contaminated groundwater from a well at 70 m from the repository, contamination of the local wetlands receiving the highest radionuclide flux after migration through the aquifer and contamination of the local river receiving the highest radionuclide flux after migration through the aquifer. In addition, an exploratory study was carried out for biota residing in the groundwater. All impact assessments were performed using the Environmental Risk from Ionising Contaminants: Assessment and Management (ERICA) tool. For all scenarios considered, absorbed dose rates to biota were found to be well below the ERICA 10 microGy/h screening value. The highest dose rates were observed for the scenario where soil was irrigated with groundwater from the vicinity of the repository. For biota residing in the groundwater well, a few dose rates were slightly above the screening level but significantly below the dose rates at which the smallest effects are observed for those relevant species or groups of species. Given the conservative nature of the assessment, it can be concluded that manmade radionuclides deposited into the environment by the near surface disposal of category A waste at Dessel do not have a significant radiological impact to wildlife.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)263-278
    JournalJournal of environmental radioactivity
    StatePublished - 3 Jun 2016

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