The primary focus of the radiochemistry program is measurement of radionuclide activities at environmental background levels. Analysis capabilities for environmental media include air, soil, surface water and sediment, groundwater, and biota. In addition to environmental media, the laboratory will be developing bioassay analysis capabilities for urine, feces, and tissue. Standard reference materials for instrument calibration and analytical quality control and quality assurance programs are being implemented for the laboratories. The radiochemistry laboratory currently participates in the DOE Environmental Measurements Laboratory, Quality Assessment Program. The Center is also a pilot participant in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Radiochemistry Intercomparison Program (RIP) for evaluation of low-level radionuclide measurements.
The radiochemistry laboratory employs procedures for low-level measurement of actinides, fission products, activated corrosion products, and naturally-occurring radionuclides. These analyses employ advanced instrumentation including alpha spectrometry, low background alpha-beta counting, gamma spectrometry, gas proportional counting, and liquid scintillation. Detection levels achievable with the laboratory’s current alpha spectrometry instrumentation and techniques are on the order of 370 µBq for actinides.
Approximately 1700 square feet of space is allocated to the radiochemistry program, including a primary radiochemistry laboratory, and separate tracer and counting laboratories. The primary laboratory room is equipped with one 6-foot chemical hood, five 8-foot chemical hoods, a separate deionized water system, refrigerator, centrifuge and approximately 400 square feet of bench surface.