TRITIUM (3H) RECAPTURE BEHAVIOR AT A NUCLEAR POWER REACTOR DUE TO AIRBORNE RELEASES

 

Dr. Jason T. Harris
Department of Physics
Idaho State University

 This presentation describes the initiatives taken by the Cook Nuclear Plant to study the on-site behavior of recaptured tritium released in its airborne effluents. Recapture is the process where a released radioactive effluent, in this case tritium, is brought back on-site through some mechanism.  Precipitation, shifts in wind direction, or anthropogenic structures that restrict or alter effluent movement can all lead to recapture.  The investigation was started after tritium was detected in the north storm drain outfall.  Recent inadvertent tritium releases by several other nuclear power plants, many of which entered the groundwater, have led to increased surveillance and scrutiny by regulatory authorities and the general public. To determine the source of tritium in the outfall, an on-site surface water, well water, rainwater and air-conditioning condensate monitoring program was begun. Washout coefficients were also determined to compare with results reported by other nuclear power plants. Program monitoring revealed detectable tritium concentrations in several precipitation sample locations downwind of the two monitored containment building release vents. Tritium was found in higher concentrations in air-conditioning condensate, with a mean value of 528 Bq L-1   (14,300 pCi L-1). The condensate, and to a lesser extent rainwater, was contributing to the tritium found in the north storm drain outfall.  Maximum concentration values for each sample type were used to estimate the most conservative dose. A maximum dose of 1.1 × 10-10 mSv (1.1 × 10-8 mrem) total body was calculated to determine the health impact of the tritium detected.