Discharge of radioactive substances into the air

The discharges of gaseous radioactive substances produced at the power plant are cleaned by filtering and slowing down their release before they can enter the environment around the nuclear power plant.

The aim is to keep the discharges as low as possible through practical measures. Gaseous radioactive substances are discharged via the plant’s tall ventilation chimney into the air.

Before the discharge, the level of radioactive substances is measured using a radiation meter. Samples of discharged air are also collected continuously for more precise analyses. Using precise measurement methods, nuclear power plant companies determine the composition and activity levels of the radioactive substances obtained from the air samples. Nuclear power plant companies report discharge data to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority on a quarterly basis. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority inspects the discharge reports received.

Methods of measurement of nuclear power plant discharges have been approved by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority regularly inspects the power plants’ discharge systems.

In the analysis of the substances discharged into the air from nuclear power plants in Finland, an aver-age of ten to twenty different radioactive substances are detected each year. The most common nu-clides discharged into the air were tritium, carbon-14, argon-41, chromium-51, manganese-54, cobalt-58 and -60, silver-110m, antimony-122 and -124, iodine-131 and cesium-137. Argon-41 is a nuclide that is found in significant amounts only in the discharges from the Loviisa power plant. Other radio-nuclides detected at nuclear power plants in Finland include: iron-59, arsenic-76, bromine-82, different isotopes of krypton (-85m, -87 and -88), niobium-95, tellurium-125m, iodine-132 and -133, cesium-134 and different isotopes of xenon (-133, -133m, -135 and -135m).

The discharge data are used to evaluate the radiation exposure of residents around the nuclear power plant (the dose of the “most exposed person” in the environment). The amount of discharges has a direct impact on the radiation doses of the most exposed person in the environment.

Noble gas releases to the atmosphere, Loviisa NPPNo significant changes have been observed in the discharges of radioactive inert gases (Kr-87 equiv.) at the Loviisa power plant between 2005 and 2014. The prevailing substance in the discharges was argon-41, which is generated from the argon-40 in the air between the reactor pressure vessel and the main radiation protector. The quantity of the discharges was less than 0.05% of the annual discharge limit.

Iodine isotope releases to the atmosphere, Loviisa NPPThere was variation in the iodine isotopes (I-131 equiv.) discharged into the air from the Loviisa power plant between 2005 and 2014. Small fuel leaks in the power plant units affected the levels of iodine discharges in 2009, 2010 and 2013. The most significant iodine discharges were generated during annual maintenance, when the reactor has been opened and iodine has been released into the ventila-tion systems and, after cleaning, into the outdoor air. The quantity of the discharges was less than 0.002% of the annual discharge limit in 2014.

Aerosol releases to the atmosphere, Loviisa NPPThe discharges of aerosol particles from the Loviisa power plant were much lower than normal in 2014. The levels of aerosol discharges were higher than normal in 2013, due to the release of short-lived As-76 (arsenic) from both plant units during the additional shutdowns at the end of that year.

Noble gas releases to the atmosphere, Olkiluoto NPPVariation was observed in the discharges of radioactive inert gases (Kr-87 equiv.) from the Olkiluoto power plant between 2005 and 2014. In 2015, radioactive inert gases were not detected at all, nor were they observed in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2014. Small fuel leaks in the power plant units affected the levels of inert gas discharges in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Iodine isotope releases to the atmosphere, Olkiluoto NPPThere was variation in the iodine isotopes (I-131 equiv.) discharged into the air from the Olkiluoto power plant between 2005 and 2014. Small fuel leaks in the power plant units affected the levels of discharges between 2010 and 2013. In 2004, the levels of discharges were so low that they were not detected even with highly accurate measurement. In 2014, the level of iodine discharges was very low, or less than 0.0002% of the annual discharge limit.

Aerosol releases to the atmosphere, Olkiluoto NPPThe levels of aerosol particle discharges from the Olkiluoto plant remained around the same between 2005 and 2014.

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  • Sovijärvi Jukka
    Section Head / SÄT tel. +358975988519