Quintessa

Biosphere

For the past two decades Quintessa staff and associates have been at the forefront of developing and applying methodologies and models for contaminant transfer in the biosphere, and assessing potential doses and impacts to people and wildlife.

Quintessa and its staff have participated in international projects exploring biosphere assessment for deep geological disposal, including BIOMOVS II, BIOMASS, BIOCLIM, BIOSCOMP, EMRAS, EMRAS II, MODARIA, MODARIA II, and BIOPROTA. Quintessa staff played a key technical role in developing the BIOMASS guidance, and have a leading role in updating that guidance through the MODARIA II and BIOPROTA programmes.

Quintessa has provided biosphere assessment support to a range of geological disposal programmes, including those for RWM in the UK, Andra in France, Nagra in Switzerland, NWMO in Canada and for JAEA and NUMO in Japan.  Quintessa has also provided support to the regulatory review of biosphere assessment studies, most notably for SSM in Sweden.

Our capabilities and experience in biosphere characterisation, research and assessment for geological disposal programmes includes:

  • assistance with the development and practical application of the international Reference Biospheres methodology;
  • support to the development and application of national and international regulations for the long-term safety of geological disposal;
  • support to the development of biosphere characterisation programmes;
  • understanding of long-term climate evolution and its representation within biosphere assessments, including transitions between climate states;
  • formulation of long-term environmental change, including climate and landscape change, scenarios and their potential impacts;
  • catchment modelling in support of post-closure performance assessment;
  • modelling transfer processes at the geosphere-biosphere interface;
  • representation of redox variations in the soil zone in the context of assessment modelling;
  • conceptualisation and modelling of the transfer and fate of radionuclides in the biosphere;
  • biosphere modelling at a range of spatial and temporal scales taking account of variability and heterogeneity;
  • recognition, management and evaluation of uncertainties about the future, modelling and data associated with biosphere models;
  • literature review and elicitation for key biosphere radionuclides, processes and parameters;
  • development of protocols for the selection and use of data within biosphere assessments along with associated biosphere databases;
  • radiological impact assessment for people and wildlife based on international standards;
  • modelling the transport and health impacts of chemotoxic and radiotoxic species including their synergistic effects;
  • development and assessment of disruptive event scenarios including the effects of human actions.

Models for contaminant transport and potential impacts within the biosphere are often compartment based.  Quintessa is experienced in developing, implementing and evaluating conceptual and associated mathematical models for the biosphere both within our own compartment modelling code, AMBER, and within the GoldSim modelling code.