Radioactive contamination of the yenisei river: state and prognosis

Institute of Biophysics, SB RAS, Krasnoyarsk

Head of the Institute:

Andrey G.Degermendzhy, Doctor of Physical and Mathematics Sciences
Akademgorodok, Krasnoyarsk, 660036, Russia
Telephone: 7(3912)43-15-79
Telefax: 7(3912)43-34-00

Principal researchers:

L.G.Kosolapova, Ph.D. senior researcher
A.Ya.Bolsunovsky, Ph.D., senior researcher
V.M.Belolipetsky, Doctor of Science

Project objectives

The project objective is to develop a tool (Environmental Decision Support System) to evaluate and predict the radioecological consequences of artificial contamination of the Yenissei Rriver. The tool a mathematical model is of generic character and applicable to other objects. The Mining-Chemical Works (MCW) (Ministry of the Nuclear Power Industry of the Russian Federation) in Zheleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-26), one of the world largest facilities for producing military plutonium, has been in operation in the Krasnoyarsk Kray since 1958. Working for many years, the reactor and radiochemical production have contaminated more than one thousand kilometres of the Yenissei River, the flood plains, and adjoining areas with artificial radionuclids, including transuranium elements. Storage facilities on the territory of the works, in aquifers amassed tremendous amounts of radioactive wastes with a total activity of more than one billion Curie. Accidental releases of radionuclids into the environment and the Yenissei River can contaminate not only close surroundings of the Krasnoyarsk Kray, but also the Kara sea of the Arctic ocean. Until 1991 the radioecolgical situation of Yenissei was monitored by the agencies of the Ministry of the Nuclear Power Industry only. Democratisation processes in Russia and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident, in particular, facilitated the development of independent radioecological research. However, the actual extent of the radioactive contamination is still subject to research (transuranium elements, in particular). The Yenissei river flood plains are a convenient test object to investigate the long-term effects of prolonged radioactive contamination of a large river system. The world community is interested in increasing scientific knowledge by understanding the parameters involved in radionuclid transport/redistribution along river systems, and in developing methods to evaluate and predict radioecological consequences of prolonged contamination of a river, in particular by long-life transuranium radionuclids.

Background and significance of objectives

Research plan: approaches and methods

Investigations of migration processes, concentration and biological effects of radionuclids in living and abiotic components of the river system. Development of generic principles to describe the migration of radioactive isotopes in aqueous ecosystems. Definition of ecological standards of anthropogenic load on water biocoenoses. Theoretical basics of mathematical modelling of radionuclid migration in water bodies have been developed by the research team (Kryshev I.I., Sazykina T.G.) of the Radium Institute (St.-Petersburg), experimental investigation of radionuclid migration over trophic chains in a water ecosystem has been made by Gennady G. Polikarpov of the A.O. Kovalevsky Institute of Biology of Southern Seas (Sevastopol) for marine water bodies, and Kulikov N.V. and Chebotina M.Ya. of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology (Russian Academy of Sciences, Urals Branch) in Yekaterinburg for fresh-water bodies.

List of publications of participants related to the project

Fig. 1. Distribution of radionuclides along the Yenisei river from radioactive waste discharge site.