The USA Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Industrial Source Complex Short Term 3 (ISCST3) dispersion modelling code was used to evaluate radon transport and the effects of local variations around tailings dam using a Gaussian plume model. The tailings dam was modelled as point, flat ground and top level, total emitting surface area (true geometry) and volume source geometries. The true area geometry was considered as the baseline source geometry. To improve the accuracy of the model predictions as compared to traditional approaches, the true geometry area source term was corrected to account for cracks and fissures on the tailings and the geometry of tailings dam was modelled by considering all emitting surfaces as sources. Compared to the baseline, the model overpredicted the flat ground area source by up to 274% and underpredicted the top-level area source by up to 50%. The volume emission source was overpredicted by up to 300% in 60% of the modelling runs and underpredicted by 55% in 40% of the volume model runs. While the top-level area source term produced lower concentrations at near-field ground-level receptors, accounting for the wakes effect increased the radon concentrations from the top-level area source of the tailings dam by up to 239%. From the modelling results, the highest concentration predicted by the model from the true geometry source was found to be 0.843 Bq m−3
, which corresponds to the dose of 0.012 mSv/y to the public due to radon from the tailings. This value is less than the 1 mSv/y dose constraint stipulated by the National Nuclear Regulator.
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