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Induced Radioactivity and Waste Classification of Reactor Zone Components of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 After Final Shutdown

Boris K. Bylkin, Galina B. Davydova, Yuri A. Zverkov, Alexander V. Krayushkin, Yuri A. Neretin, Anatoly V. Nosovsky, Valery A. Seyda, Steven M. Short

Nuclear Technology

Volume 136 / Number 1 / October 2001 / Pages 76-88


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The dismantlement of the reactor core materials and surrounding structural components is a major technical concern for those planning closure and decontamination and decommissioning of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Specific issues include when and how dismantlement should be accomplished and what the radwaste classification of the dismantled system would be at the time it is disassembled. Whereas radiation levels and residual radiological characteristics of the majority of the plant systems are directly measured using standard radiation survey and radiochemical analysis techniques, actual measurements of reactor zone materials are not practical due to high radiation levels and inaccessibility. For these reasons, neutron transport analysis was used to estimate induced radioactivity and radiation levels in the Chernobyl NPP Unit 1 reactor core materials and structures.

Analysis results suggest that the optimum period of safe storage is 90 to 100 yr for the Unit 1 reactor. For all of the reactor components except the fuel channel pipes (or pressure tubes), this will provide sufficient decay time to allow unlimited worker access during dismantlement, minimize the need for expensive remote dismantlement, and allow for the dismantled reactor components to be classified as low- or medium-level radioactive waste. The fuel channel pipes will remain classified as high-activity waste requiring remote dismantlement for hundreds of years due to the high concentration of induced 63Ni in the Zircaloy pipes.

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