Industry Technology Environment International Conference Moscow, 18-20 September 2002
TECHNOLOGICALLY ENHANCED NATURAL RADIOACTIVITY OF FLY-ASH PRODUCED IN COAL BURNING POWER PLANTS AND THE ASSOCIATED RADIOLOGICAL IMPACT
Coal and lignite fired power plants produce significant amounts of ashes, which are quite often being used as additives in cement and other building materials. In many cases coal and lignite present high concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides, such as 238U, 226Ra, 210Pb, 232Th and 40K. Moreover, during the combustion process the produced ashes are highly enriched in the above radionuclides, thus characterized as Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM). The most important naturally occurring radionuclide in such power plant ashes is 226Ra, since it produces radon, which when exhaled contributes significantly to the dose received by the workers and the public. An extensive research project for the determination of the natural radioactivity of lignite and ashes from Greek lignite fired power plants is in progress in the Nuclear Engineering Section of the National Technical University of Athens (NES-NTUA) since 1983. From the results obtained so far it may be concluded that 226Ra radioactivity of fly-ash may, in some cases, exceeds the 1kBqkg-1 level, which is high compared to the mean 226Ra radioactivity of surface soils in Greece, which is 25Bqkg-1. Furthermore, the radioactivity of the volatile 210Pb in the fly-ash may reach the value of up to 4kBkg-1, depending on the sampling location inside the power plant. The enrichment factor depends upon the specific nuclide physical properties as well as on other factors. In this paper it will be presented: natural radioactivity results from the analysis of the lignite's feeding and the ashes produced in greek lignite-burning power plants, enrichment factors of natural radionuclides in the ashes and radon exhalation measurements from fly-ash collected at different stages along the emission control system of the power plants. Similar results will be presented for building materials fabricated using fly-ash. Finally, an estimation of the radiological consequences due to the fly-ash releases in the vicinity of a lignite-burning power plant, and the use of fly-ash in building materials production will be presented.