M. V. Ramana, A. H. Nayyar, Michael Schoeppner, "Nuclear High-level Waste Tank Explosions: Potential Causes and Impacts of a Hypothetical Accident at India's Kalpakkam Reprocessing Plant," Science & Global Security 24, no. 3 (2016): 174-203
Tanks holding liquid high level waste from reprocessing spent fuel have large inventories of highly radioactive materials. These tanks could potentially be damaged by a variety of chemical explosions, leading to the dispersion of a significant fraction of their radioactive contents. This article describes some of the different chemical explosions that could occur and examines how such explosions could occur at the Kalpakkam Reprocessing Plant in India, which likely stores a large volume of high level liquid waste because vitrification of that waste did not begin until more than 15 years after the plant began operating in 1998. The atmospheric dispersion of the hypothetical radioactive release is modeled using the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Model developed by the Air Research Laboratory of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The results suggest that the modeled accident scenario would lead to nearly 97,000 cancers, with roughly 47,000 of these being fatal. Larger radioactive releases are possible and would lead to proportionately higher incidence of cancer and cancer-caused mortality.
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