COnsequences of SEvere radioactive releases to Nordic MArine environmen

  • Suolanen, Vesa (PI)
  • Iosjpe, Mikhail (CoI)
  • Isaksson, Mats (CoI)
  • Joensen, Hans Pauli (CoI)
  • Lahtinen, Juhani (CoI)
  • Logemann, Kai (CoI)
  • Pálsson, Sigurður Emil (CoI)
  • Roos, Per (CoI)

Project Details


In the report, consequences of hypothetical severe nuclear accidents releases to Nordic marine environment are preliminary considered. The considered marine area comprises the Baltic Sea (Sweden, Denmark,
Finland) and the North Atlantic (Iceland, Faroes, Norway) areas. The hypothetical severe nuclear accidents can be related to nuclear power plants, nuclear powered submarines or ice-breakers.
Quite comprehensive survey on radioactive source terms of extremely severe nuclear power and submarine accidents has been done. This enables to estimate more realistically possible radioactive releases of various elements and nuclides to marine environment. One recent reference is of course the Fukushima accident and estimated releases there.
The marine flows and dilution circumstances around the Nordic nuclear power plants and in the Baltic Sea area in general, has been studied. Respectively marine flows related to Iceland and Faroes coasts are considered with measured data and with preliminary 3D-model simulations. The substantial depth of sea water in the North Atlantic affect vertical concentration profiles to some extent. At Icelandic or Faroese waters, a potential submarine accident would likely occur in a well defined water mass, and radioactivity from the accident would be detected and spread with the flow regime of the water mass in the world ocean.
Based on hypothetical severe accidents scenarios, preliminary consequence calculations has been done. It should be emphasised that the considered severe accident cases, considered in this study, do not directly attach any specific Nordic nuclear power plant or any specific submarine type. The considered radioactive releases will, however, provide specified references for more extensive consideration of environmental consequences of severe - or minor – radioactive releases to Nordic marine environment.
As a reference, the release amounts from a 3000 MWth reactor size were used. Based on source term analyses, the chosen release fractions in the study were: iodine 20% (of the total core inventory), caesium 10%, tellurium 10%, strontium 0.5%, ruthenium 0.5%. The considered release event to marine environment were assumed to start ten hours after shutdown of the reactor. Total released amounts of the most important nuclides were estimated to be: 4.85⋅1017 Bq (I-131), 7.29⋅1016 Bq (Cs-134) and 4.17⋅1016 Bq (Cs-137).
Due to the highly contaminated sea food, the arising doses to human from a hypothetical severe nuclear power plant accident would be high especially in local sea area. Based on preliminary results, annual individual doses could be ten to some hundreds of millisieverts from local sea area.
The most important nuclides were Cs-134, Cs-137 and I-131 causing 96% of the total ingestion dose.
In the Baltic Sea area, the arising doses from a severe nuclear power plant accident assumed to happen e.g. at Gulf of Finland, would be about 1/10000 compared to doses in the local sea area. Thus the arising maximum annual individual dose for fish pathway is in the level of 0.1 mSv in the Baltic Sea area.
Submarine accident assumed to happen at Icelandic waters, has been analysed in the study. The calculated collective dose rates to man as well as doses to a critical group are significantly lower than doses from natural sources. However, in local considerations dose-rates are significantly higher than the negligible component to the annual individual dose obtained from natural sources (UNSCEAR, 2000) and, therefore, have to be taken into consideration during evaluation of the accident consequences.
Effective start/end date1/01/1231/12/13


  • severe radioactive releases
  • marine environment
  • nuclear power plants
  • submarines
  • doses


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