January 19, 2023
Conference Paper

Geologic Disposal Safety Assessment (GDSA) Biosphere Model Development


The Spent Fuel and Waste Science and Technology Campaign of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy, Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition is conducting research and development on geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste. This work includes the Geologic Disposal Safety Assessment (GDSA) program which is charged with development of generic deep geologic repository concepts and system performance assessment models. One part of the GDSA framework is the development of a biosphere model capable of assessing doses to potential receptors exposed to radionuclides released from geologic disposal sites. As part of the GDSA framework, a biosphere model compatible with the PFLOTRAN massively parallel subsurface flow and reactive transport code is under development. The PFLOTRAN model provides the radionuclide source term for the biosphere model. The GDSA Biosphere model then assesses the potential movement of radionuclides through the surface biosphere and the subsequent exposure to a human receptor living in the biosphere. The biosphere model includes pathways originating from the groundwater as well as pathways originating from surface water bodies that have a water exchange with a contaminated groundwater body. The pathways for human exposure include consumption of drinking water, irrigated crops, meat animals, aquatic vegetation, and animals, etc.; external exposure from irrigated ground surfaces, surface water bodies, recreational activities, etc.; and inadvertent exposures such as ingestion of contaminated soils or shower water, etc. The GDSA Biosphere model was designed to be flexible and generic in order to accommodate a variety of different sites and climate states. This presentation will present the on the purpose, design, and development progress of the GDSA Biosphere Model.

Published: January 19, 2023


Condon C.A., S. GHOSH, B.A. Napier, G.E. Hammond, and H. Gadey. 2022. Geologic Disposal Safety Assessment (GDSA) Biosphere Model Development. In International High Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference, November 13-17, 2022, Phoenix, AZ, 776-779. La Grange Park, Illinois:American Nuclear Society. PNNL-SA-174306.

Research topics