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Developing methods for rapid and accurate measurement of decommissioning radionuclides

The need

Decommissioning of nuclear facilities represents a significant challenge due to the range of radionuclides that must be measured in different sample types. Inaccurate measurement of the activity content could lead to incorrect waste classification, which in turn could have significant economic implications.

A major challenge facing operators is that a number of radionuclides do not have established procedures for sample preparation and quantification, or the existing procedures are time-consuming and labour intensive. There is a need to develop rapid and robust procedures for a range of radionuclides, which would contribute to faster assessment of waste and clean-up of nuclear sites. 

The impact

The latest generation plasma mass spectrometry has expanded the number of radionuclides measurable at concentrations required for waste characterisation. They also provide more rapid assessment of some radionuclides previously measured using relatively slow decay counting techniques.

As well as final detection, the instrument is equipped with online collision/reaction cell capability that can be used to separate the radionuclide of interest from interferences, which reduces, or in some cases removes, the need for offline separation.

This further contributes to the reduction in procedural time, as well as the number of materials required during sample preparation.

Find out more: strontium-90-in-radioactive-waste