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Fast Neutron reactor Effect on Environment


Estimation of impact of reactor BN-350 on the environment during its operation

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Nakanishi A

Leading Institute
National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakstan / Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kazakstan, Almaty

Supporting institutes

  • MAEC-Kazatomprom, Kazakstan, Aktau


  • Los-Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos

Project summary

The fast neutron reactor facility (RF) BN-350 with sodium coolant was constructed in the USSR and put into operation in 1972. It was aimed to produce electric power and desalinate seawater as a source of fresh water supply for the city of Aktau located on the shore of the Caspian Sea in an arid under-populated region of West Kazakhstan. BN-350 reactor facility was the first large-scale nuclear power station which demonstrated on an industrial scale the opportunity in principle to construct and operate fast neutron reactor facilities with sodium coolant.
The experience of both operation and withdrawal of such a unique nuclear power facility as BN-350 can be scarcely underestimated and thus be used by other countries.
One of the significant issues of the long-termed operation of such a radiation-hazardous object (RHO) as RF BN-350 is connected with the estimation of its effect upon the environments. Necessity and urgency of the radiation situation detailed study is stipulated by the fact that Aktau, a large administrative and industrial (oil-producing) center, is located in located in the zone of its potential effect.
The results of assessment of the BN-350 reactor facility effect on the forming of radioecological situation within the adjacent territories can be also used to design, operate, and withdrawal other industrial fast neutron nuclear facilities.
While proceeding with radioecological study and elaboration of the measures to reduce radiation hazard as for the human settlements and areas located in the zone of RHO effect, one should pay special attention to the cases when several different type radiation hazardous objects simultaneously exert influence on the forming of radioecological situation in a region. The city of Aktau is one of the most typical examples because radiation situation in its vicinity was formed under the influences of such objects as Mangystau Nuclear Power Complex (Fast neutron reactor facility BN-350), excavating and processing uranium mining enterprises, and a range of oil fields in service. The results of the previously conducted investigations show the radioecological situation in the sty and the adjacent territories is rather complex and needs taking immediate and serious measures. At the same time to increase efficiency of the measures to reduce radiation hazard one needs reliable data reflecting BN-350 participation in radioactive contamination of the environmental objects. With that end in view one needs studying all the possible ways of environment contamination for the period of reactor facility operation and ascertaining and assessing the scales of the ecological damage have been caused.
In the course of Project realisation the next results will be obtained as follows:
· Retrospective assessment of the level of gas aerosol release according to the archival materials will be carried out and authentic experimental data will be obtained characterising influence of RF BN-350 on the forming of radiocontamination of the adjacent territory soils;
· Quantitative evaluation of the scale of BN-350 effect on the level of Lake Karakol’s surface water and bottom sediment contamination with radionuclides as well as the Caspian Sea littoral zone radiocontamination;
· The possibility of radionuclide release to ground water in the vicinity of solid radioactive waste repository will be studied as well as subsequent inflow of the water into the Karakol and the Caspian Sea;
· Complex radioecological study of Aktau will be carried out and these results will make possible evaluating integral doze load on the population and selecting specific contribution of BN-350 operating activity into accumulation of these dose loads;
· Electron database will be created containing all the results of field and laboratory study on the problems under investigation.
The results of the work by the present Project will replenish the current approaches to the assessment of radioecological situation in the places of nuclear power station displacement.
The Institute of Nuclear Physics and the JSC “MAEC-Kazatomprom” being provided with high-qualify personnel and equipped with corresponding technical means, the problem stated above can be successfully solved. As for the INP NNC RK, an up-to-date measuring equipment and methodical base to determine radionuclide and element content of environmental objects was created there with the help of international organisations (IAEA, ISTC, and et al.). Instrumental and radiochemical analytical techniques were developed, certified by the State Certification Committee of RK, and are used successfully to study radioecological situation. The method of electron paramagnetic resonance is elaborated making possible reconstructing dose loads upon the population dwelling in different territories. The State licence ГЛА 0000017 of the eleventh of January 1999 was won by the Institute, which gives the right to conduct radioecological investigations and control radiation situation within the RK’s territory.
All the work will be carried out by high-qualified specialists of the INP NNC RK and JSC “MAEC-Kazatomprom”. While proceeding with field and laboratory investigations the certified and allowed within PR’s territory analytical techniques will be used only. New field or laboratory analytical techniques will be elaborated or fixed, if necessary.
To measure radionuclide content of environmental samples the methods of instrumental semiconductor gamma-spectrometry, alpha- and beta-spectrometry after preliminary radiochemical selection will be used. To study microelement content of the samples and main isotope relations the high-sensitive inductively coupled plasma mass-spectrometry will be applied.
All the results will be analysed, generalised and presented by means of up-to-date computer geographical informational technologies.


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