Present and future potential of krypton-85 for the detection of clandestine reprocessing plants for treaty verification

Michael Schoeppner, Alexander Glaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Burnup calculations are applied to determine the amount of krypton-85 that is produced during the irradiation of nuclear fuel. Since krypton-85 is most likely released into the atmosphere during reprocessing to separate plutonium, atmospheric transport modeling is used to calculate the worldwide distribution of krypton-85 concentrations stemming from emissions from declared reprocessing plants. The results are the basis for scenarios in which emissions from clandestine reprocessing facilities have to be detected against various background levels. It is concluded that today's background imposes heavily on the ability to detect small and medium plutonium separation rates; only high separation rates of 1 SQ per week and higher have a chance to be detected with feasible outlay. A fixed network of monitoring stations seems too costly; instead the high number of samples that are required rather calls for mobile sampling procedures, where air samples are collected at random locations over the world and are analyzed in regional laboratories for their krypton-85 concentration. Further, it is argued that krypton-85 emissions from declared reprocessing activities have to be significantly lowered to enable a worldwide verification of the absence of even smaller clandestine reprocessing. For each scenario the number of samples that have to be taken for probable detection is calculated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-309
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Atmospheric transport
  • Environmental tracer
  • Fissile material
  • Noble gas emissions
  • Plutonium


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