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RSCS Completes Numerical and Spatial Groundwater Modeling Efforts for Northeastern U.S. Nuclear Power Plant
Posted on December 2nd, 2012

Radiation Safety and Control Services (RSCS) has recently completed the year-long development of a Numerical Groundwater Fate and Transport and Spatial Model for a geologically-complex Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) located in the northeastern US. 

The model was developed primarily to support the Site’s Radiological Groundwater Protection Initiative (GPI).  The GPI is a US-NPP-industry-wide initiative to characterize and monitor groundwater quality at operating nuclear power plants.  The basic objectives of the initiative are to: identify potential sources of groundwater contamination; optimize the location and design of monitoring wells; characterize groundwater flow and monitor groundwater quality to identify changes in groundwater quality or contaminants that may indicate a leak and/or radiological release to the environment. 

The geology and extensive subsurface structures at the site create complex 3-dimensional flow patterns that warrant the use of 3-dimensional modeling techniques to simulate the local aquifer(s).

In order to accurately model groundwater flow at the site, RSCS recognized a need for a 3-dimensional graphical model of the site.  This required digitization of site structure and component drawings to create a spatial scale digital model of the site to a resolution of a few inches.  The digitized model of the site includes the bedrock surface, soil, groundwater, building foundations, buried piping and above grade structures.  The digitized site model made it possible to view a composite representation of subsurface structures, adjoining buildings and buried piping from any angle in 3-dimensions.  This visualization tool was used as a vital aide for numerical and conceptual groundwater modeling, especially when identifying barriers to flow associated with complex subsurface structures.  

The site numerical and spatial model of the site will help the site predict the fate and transport of contaminants in the event of a leak, and identify subsurface structures or materials, which may create barriers to flow or preferential flow-paths.  In the future, these site models will also assist plant engineering in evaluating and mitigating groundwater intrusion into deep foundations at the facility and evaluate where changes to active cathodic protection systems may be warranted based on subsurface conditions.

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