Preferential Radionuclide Release Due to Alpha Decay: Effects on Repository Performance

Abstract

We model preferential release of 237Np, 234U, 230Th, 226Ra, and 210Pb from disposed commercial spent nuclear fuel as a result of alpha recoil damage, using the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Total-system Performance Assessment (TPA) model for the potential repository at Yucca Mountain. Time-dependent augmentation of the ingrown component is simulated by increasing the initial parent inventory; we have used a factor of five increase, based on natural system observations. For 237Np, the magnitude of preferential release is subject to solubility limits. Stochastic TPA runs show a significant effect on modeled dose of preferential 237Np release, but low impact from the other four radionuclides. The mechanism could be ineffective if 237Np is incorporated into secondary phases. While our results are exploratory in nature, this approach to modeling decay-related enhancement of release can be applied in other nuclear waste disposal settings.

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Acknowledgments

We thank S. Mohanty and R. Janetzke for helpful discussions, and P. Bertetti and B. Sagar for thoughtful reviews. This paper, prepared to document work performed by the CNWRA under Contract NRC-02-02-012 on behalf of the NRC Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, Division of High Level Waste Repository Safety, is an independent product of the CNWRA and does not necessarily reflect the view or regulatory position of the NRC.

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Correspondence to David A. Pickett.

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Pickett, D.A., Murphy, W.M. Preferential Radionuclide Release Due to Alpha Decay: Effects on Repository Performance. MRS Online Proceedings Library 824, 173–178 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-824-CC3.7

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