An Initial Analysis of 85 Kr Production and Dispersion from Reprocessing in India and Pakistan

Z. Mian, A. H. Nayyar, "An Initial Analysis of 85 Kr Production and Dispersion from Reprocessing in India and Pakistan," Science & Global Security, 10, no. 3, (2002): 151-179.
Reprocessing of nuclear reactor spent fuel to recover plutonium is accompanied by release of krypton-85 ( 85 Kr), a fission product. Monitoring for 85 Kr might form a part of the verification regime of a possible fissile material cut-off treaty and, in the interim, a South Asian moratorium on reprocessing for military and civilian plutonium. Estimates are made of plutonium and 85 Kr generated in the spent fuel of India's CIRUS and Dhruva plutonium production reactors, and Pakistan's Khushab reactor, and of the release of 85 Kr from subsequent reprocessing activities at India's Trombay reprocessing plant and Pakistan's facility at Nilore. The reprocessing of nuclear power reactor spent fuel at India's Tarapur and Kalpakkam facilities is also examined since India reportedly conducted a nuclear weapons test in May 1998 using non-weapons grade plutonium. The atmospheric dispersion of krypton from reprocessing activities in South Asia is modeled using both a simple Gaussian plume model and a more sophisticated code available for download or to run on the web, the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model (HYSPLIT-4), developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Air Resources Laboratory and Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. Preliminary results suggest that it would be difficult to detect the release of krypton from nuclear weapons related reprocessing activities in India and Pakistan at distances of more than around a hundred kilometers, assuming representative atmospheric conditions. This would make it difficult for mutual independent verification of a moratorium on reprocessing of military and civilian plutonium. A possible way forward is offered by claims that the U.S. may have monitored 85 Kr emissions from Pakistan's Nilore reprocessing facility. The results presented here seem to support the possibility that the U.S. embassy could have been used as an air sampling station, in keeping with an apparently long standing U.S. program, "Operation Bluenose," to monitor krypton emissions associated with reprocessing. An India-Pakistan moratorium could be based on a similar capability, if India were to use its embassy in Islamabad as a monitoring station and allowed Pakistan to open a consulate in Mumbai, which would be able to detect reprocessing emissions from Trombay and Tarapur, and to open a consulate in Madras for detecting possible reprocessing activity at Kalpakkam.

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