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Radioactive Waste Characterization – Analytical Approach

Based on comprehensive long-term experience, the radiochemistry group has developed a robust set of sample handling procedures. Combined with extensive instrumentation, these procedures allow for complete waste characterization.

Radioactive Waste Characterization Procedures

The radiochemistry group has a range of procedures for sample preparation, dissolution, interference separation and analyte preconcentrations. These procedures enable the group to handle any matrix from metal alloys to lubricants, resins and biological media.

Once the sample is converted into a suitable form, isotope groups are separated based on chemical similarities and subsequently quantitated based on optimal radiochemical characteristics. Hence, gamma emitters, pure beta and alpha emitters can all be determined as required, either singly or in groups.

In cases where waste streams are too complex and voluminous to allow proper sampling for analysis, reasonable estimates are obtained via scaling factors based on a number of more readily measurable species.

Much of this work is assisted by elemental analysis provided by Kinectrics support teams using ICPAES, ICPMS and other instrumentation.


Arguably, no issue is more vital in radioactive waste characterization than source term characterization.  

Kinectrics frequently provides emergency response services to fully characterize waste materials in a work area, in order to allow health physicists to evaluate worker exposure and potential dose commitments.

Although area swipes are the most common sample types, the Kinectrics radiochemistry team can, and has, fully analyzed a variety of solid wastes to identify and quantify all sources of gamma, beta and alpha radiation.

Although deposits from feeder tubes with the attendant concern over alpha contamination are the most recent examples of such work, the Kinectrics team has also been extensively involved in the identification and detailed characterization of C-14 species found during the retubing of a Pickering reactor.