Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 30287-30309, 2013
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Global risk from the atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides by nuclear power plant accidents in the coming decades
T. Christoudias1, Y. Proestos1, and J. Lelieveld1,2
1The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
2Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Abstract. We estimate the global risk from the release and atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides from nuclear power plant accidents using the EMAC atmospheric chemistry–general circulation model. We included all nuclear reactors that are currently operational, under construction and planned or proposed. We implemented constant continuous emissions from each location in the model and simulated atmospheric transport and removal via dry and wet deposition processes over 20 yr (2010–2030), driven by boundary conditions based on the IPCC A2 future emissions scenario. We present global overall and seasonal risk maps for potential surface layer concentrations and ground deposition of radionuclides, and estimate potential dosages to humans from the inhalation and the exposure to ground deposited radionuclides. We find that the risk of harmful doses due to inhalation is typically highest during boreal winter due to relatively shallow boundary layer development and reduced mixing. Based on the continued operation of the current nuclear power plants, we calculate that the risk of radioactive contamination to the citizens of the USA will remain to be highest worldwide, followed by India and France. By including stations under construction and those that are planned and proposed our results suggest that the risk will become highest in China, followed by India and the USA.

Citation: Christoudias, T., Proestos, Y., and Lelieveld, J.: Global risk from the atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides by nuclear power plant accidents in the coming decades, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 30287-30309, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-30287-2013, 2013.
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