The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission announced on Jan. 22 that artificial radionuclides such as cesium-134, cesium-137 and cobalt-60 were released last year to rainwater pipes near evaporation facilities of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) according to the institute’s Jan. 21 report and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) is conducting an investigation in and around the institute.
The KAERI collected samples from the soil of the stream in front of its front gate on Dec. 30 last year and confirmed an increase in radioactive concentration in the samples on Jan. 6. Specifically, the cesium-137 concentration soared to 25.5 Bq/kg whereas the latest three-year average concentration stood at less than 0.432 Bq/kg.
According to the KAERI, the soil of the stream around the facilities showed a maximum cesium-137 concentration of 138 Bq/kg. The KINS is currently conducting environmental impact assessments and checking the facilities on an assumption that manholes beside the evaporation facilities are the source. The radioactive concentration of the soil of the stream outside the institute is at a normal level of 0.555 Bq/kg to 17.9 Bq/kg.
Earlier, in 2011, radioactive substance leakage from the KAERI’s research reactor resulted in emergency personnel escape. In addition, the KAERI paid fines and penalties from 2017 to 2019 for having buried radioactive wastes and used radioactive fuels without permission. Fires occurred in the institute in January and November 2018.