A year after the deployment of the Nucleus Separation Passive System (NSPS) from Hazel Park’s Exlterra in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, soil and air radiation levels have been reduced significantly through natural means, according to results by SSE Ecocentre, the Ukrainian state-owned enterprise in charge of radiation and environmental monitoring in Chernobyl.
Exlterra’s NSPS underground technology was installed on a 1-hectare (2.5 acre) site in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone between November 2019 and September 2020.
NSPS’s patented technology accelerates the decay of radioactive elements by harnessing existing energy in the ground in a sustainable process that uses no chemicals or environmentally harmful materials. At Chernobyl, 4,849 specially designed polyethylene tubes make up the NSPS system for the site.
Based on SSE Ecocentre’s test results — the organization measured both before and after the tubes were installed — soil radiation has been reduced by 46.6 percent and air radiation has come down 37 percent over the test site section of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone over a 12-month period.
“These results are remarkable,” says Sergiy Kireiev, general director of SSE Ecocentre in Chernobyl. “It is the first time in 35 years that such technology has succeeded in reducing the level of radioactivity in the soil and air so significantly. This is a real hope for the whole area, including the treatment of the sarcophagus.”
On April 26, 1986, following a series of tests, the No. 4 nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded, releasing radiation into the atmosphere. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in the world, and led to the death of several dozen safety personnel and firefighters, along with contributing to cancer and other diseases among people living in and near Chernobyl.
The NSPS technology uses scientific concepts of particle physics and nuclear energy to solve the problem of severe radiation contamination. It leverages high-velocity particles, also known as positrons, to direct this naturally occurring force toward radioactive isotopes in the soil and breaks the bonds holding them together.
The system, known as a de-reactor, works safely under the surface of the soil and no radioactivity is released further into the ground or above the ground in the air. Once the affected positrons come into contact with the radioactive isotope within the tubing technology, it rejoins an electron and annihilates back to its original matter, destroying the radioactive material.
“This 12-month reduction in radioactivity will allow us to bring this parcel back to its original radioactivity level over a 5-year period,” says Frank Muller, CEO of Exlterra. “We will continue to offer our services to help the Chernobyl Exclusion Site, including the area around the No. 4 plant, and we also want to quickly offer our solution at other problematic sites around the world, including Fukushima in Japan. We can avoid the discharge of radioactive water into the oceans and thus prevent a new ecological catastrophe.”
Following a tsunami set off by an earthquake in northern Japan in March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was severely impacted. In recent years, as part of the cleanup, the Japanese government has proposed dumping radioactive water stored on the plant site into the Pacific Ocean.
The methodology and measurement processes at Chernobyl were carried out by SSE Ecocentre according to the same parameters (typology, depths, location, instruments) for the first measurements before the installation of NSPS and for the recent measurements.
Radiation levels were measured at distances of 5 cm and 1 meter from the ground, respectively, while soil sampling was performed at a depth of 100 cm below the surface. The following radionuclides were measured in the soil: Cs137; Sr90; and Am241.
“What seemed impossible is now a reality,” says Andrew Niemczyk, president and CTO of Exlterra, who developed the technology. “NSPS is an innovation that allows positrons to naturally accelerate in a passive system to remove contaminated areas. It harnesses renewable energy sources present in nature to considerably accelerate the natural decomposition process of contaminants in the soil.
“That’s what makes this invention unique — it uses natural energies to solve an industrial pollution without resorting to chemical substitutes or soil manipulations.”
In addition to treating radioactivity, NSPS technology also can be used to treat other types of soil contamination, including heavy metals and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are highly problematic for the environment.
“We are only at the beginning of the virtuous application of such a technology,” says Niemczyk. “As with our other successfully commercialized technologies, we have demonstrated that we can use nature’s resources to heal the wounds we inflict on it. The common denominator of our technologies, installed underground, is the use of natural and renewable forces to achieve tangible results.”
The design and installation of the NSPS technology was part of the life story of Niemczyk captured in the book, “Ground For Freedom: Saving Chernobyl,” written by DBusiness editor R.J. King and released on the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986. The book and eBook are available on Amazon at www.SavingChernobyl.com.