Development and comparison of five site-specific biosphere models for safety assessment of radioactive waste disposal

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This paper describes the development and application of site-specific biosphere models that might be used for assessment of potential exposures in the framework of performance assessment studies of nuclear waste disposals. Model development follows the Reference Biosphere Methodology that has been set up in the framework of the BIOMASS study. In this paper, the application is to real sites at five European locations for which environmental and agricultural conditions have been described and characterised. For each of the sites a biosphere model has been developed specifically assuming a release of radionuclides to waters that are used by humans, for example as drinking water for humans and cattle and as irrigation water. Among the ingestion pathways, the intakes of drinking water, cereals, leafy vegetables, potatoes, milk, beef and freshwater fish are included in all models. Annual individual doses were calculated, and uncertainties in the results were estimated by means of stochastic calculations. To enable a comparison, all results were normalised to an activity concentration in groundwater of 1 Bq m-3 for each of the radionuclides considered (36Cl, 79Se, 99Tc, 129I, 135Cs, 226Ra, 231Pa, 230Th, 237Np, 239Pu, and 238U), i.e. those that are usually most relevant in performance assessment studies of nuclear waste disposals. Although the results do not give answers in absolute terms on potential future exposures, they indicate the spectrum of exposures that might occur in different environments and specify the interaction of environmental conditions, human habits and potential exposure.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-373
JournalJournal of Radiological protection
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2005


  • Radioactive waste, biosphere models, radiation exposure, safety assessment

ID: 282035