Geoelectrical monitoring of simulated subsurface leakage to support high-hazard nuclear decommissioning at the Sellafield Site, UK

Kuras, Oliver and Wilkinson, Paul B. and Meldrum, Philip I. and Oxby, Lucy S. and Uhlemann, Sebastian and Chambers, Jonathan E. and Binley, Andrew Mark and Graham, James and Smith, Nicholas T. and Atherton, Nick (2016) Geoelectrical monitoring of simulated subsurface leakage to support high-hazard nuclear decommissioning at the Sellafield Site, UK. Science of the Total Environment, 566-56. pp. 350-359. ISSN 0048-9697

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Abstract

A full-scale field experiment applying 4D (3D time-lapse) cross-borehole Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) to the monitoring of simulated subsurface leakage was undertaken at a legacy nuclear waste silo at the Sellafield Site, UK. The experiment constituted the first application of geoelectrical monitoring in support of decommissioning work at a UK nuclear licensed site. Images of resistivity changes occurring since a baseline date prior to the simulated leaks revealed likely preferential pathways of silo liquor simulant flow in the vadose zone and upper groundwater system. Geophysical evidence was found to be compatible with historic contamination detected in permeable facies in sediment cores retrieved from the ERT boreholes. Results indicate that laterally discontinuous till units forming localized hydraulic barriers substantially affect flow patterns and contaminant transport in the shallow subsurface at Sellafield. We conclude that only geophysical imaging of the kind presented here has the potential to provide the detailed spatial and temporal information at the (sub-)meter scale needed to reduce the uncertainty in models of subsurface processes at nuclear sites.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Science of the Total Environment
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300/2311
Subjects:
ID Code:
79740
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
24 May 2016 15:30
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
24 Mar 2020 04:59