On the necessity and the role of descriptors of neutron activated structural and shielding materials of nuclear installations for future decommissioning
Existing situation in nuclear industry is characterized with simultaneous development of the following two processes: design and construction of new generation of nuclear installations and decommissioning of installations of older generations.
Significant amounts of radioactive wastes generated during the decommissioning phase are determined both for the first and the second types of installations by the induced activity of neutron irradiated structural and shielding materials.
Concentration of the so-called radioactivity-hazardous nuclides in primary building and construction materials is the most important characteristics determining the resulting levels of induced activity. Values of these concentrations for the same type of material extracted from different geological deposits may differ by one or two orders of magnitude. Information about concentrations of radiation-hazardous elements in radiation shielding materials is fragmented and, as a rule, unsuitable for practical application.
The purpose of the present study was to substantiate the necessity of compiling and recording the data on the concentrations of radioactivity-hazardous nuclides for building and structural materials for nuclear installations during the phases of design, operation and decommissioning.
Three types of shielding concrete compositions were selected for the investigation. Concentrations of radioactivity-hazardous nuclides were mainly obtained by neutron activation technique. Neutron transport calculations were performed in one-dimensional cylindrical geometry at the core midplane according to usual core-vesselshielding model of modern VVER reactor unit including 2 m thick concrete shield. Both transport and activation calculations were undertaken using modules of SCALE system.
The obtained results allow estimating neutron-induced activation levels in the material as the function of irradiation time, amounts and categories of radioactive waste and their evolution during the decay time from 1 to 1000 years. It was established that neutron-induced activity of shielding concrete strongly depends on the actual concentrations of radioactivity-hazardous nuclides in the concrete including ‘trace’ concentrations (other factors being the same). It was also shown that failure to take such concentrations into account may lead to the underestimation of neutron-induced activation levels and amounts of radioactive wastes and their category.
The obtained results confirmed the necessity of compiling and maintaining data records on the concentrations of radioactivity-hazardous nuclides for materials used in structural and shielding materials of nuclear installations. Proposals were formulated on the potential accumulation of information, composition and formatting of descriptors of chemical composition of shielding and structural materials of nuclear installations.
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