A comparative radiological assessment of five European biosphere systems in the context of potential contamination of well water from the hypothetical disposal of radioactive waste

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In the framework of the BioMoSA project for the development of biosphere assessment models for radioactive waste disposal the Reference Biosphere Methodology developed in the IAEA programme BIOMASS was applied to five locations, situated in different European countries. Specific biosphere models were applied to assess the hypothetical contamination of a range of agricultural and environmental pathways and the dose to individuals, following contamination of well water. The results of these site-specific models developed by the different BioMoSA partners, and the individual normalised dose to the exposure groups were compared against each other. Ingestion of drinking water, fruit and vegetables were found to be among the most important pathways for almost all radionuclides. Stochastic calculations revealed that consumption habits, transfer factors, irrigation rates and distribution coefficients (Kds) were the most important parameters that influence the end results. Variations in the confidence intervals were found to be higher for sorbing elements (e.g. 36Cl, 237Np, 99Tc, 238U, 129I) than for mobile elements (e.g. 226Ra, 79Se, 135Cs, 231Pa, 239Pu). The influence of daughter products, for which the distribution into the biosphere was calculated individually, was also shown to be important. This paper gives a brief overview of the deterministic and stochastic modelling results and the parameter sensitivity. A screening methodology was introduced to identify the most important pathways, simplify a generic biosphere tool and refine the existing models.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-391
JournalJournal of Radiological protection
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2005


  • Radioactive waste disposal sites, biosphere modelling, long-term safety assessment

ID: 295376