D. Turchenko1 , S. Lukashenko2 , O. Lyahova2
1Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology of the National Nuclear Centre of the Republic of Kazakhstan
2Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology, National Nuclear Centre, Kurchatov, Kazakhstan
During the last 5 years complex research of the main environmental components of testing sites of the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) has been carried out. It was found that biological components of the environment showed high tritium concentrations in channel water. It can be assumed that all well-mouth sites of underground tests at the «Balapan» site can be potential sources of tritium uptake into environmental objects. At the «Balapan» site, at locations where underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) occurred, the presence of tritium was revealed in snow cover. Maximum concentrations of tritium in snow were found at the well heads up to 400 Bq/kg. To study the mechanism of tritium entry into snow cover, boreholes were drilled and tritium content determined in soil. Tritium in soil was found in all boreholes drilled, however, it is not uniformly distributed. Maximum tritium concentrations up to 20 kBq/kg were found at the depth of 1-3 m. A conclusion was made that in the UNEs epicenters tritium contained in the snow cover enters from the soil cover naturally by means of capillary elevation. This method of determining tritium content in snow cover can be successfully used to identify venues of underground nuclear explosions.