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Monitoring Radioactivity in the Environment: Regional Workshop on Characterization of Contaminated Areas Held in Hungary

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Object measurement at the yellow cake precipitation tank. Uranium is extracted from the groundwater obtained from the old mining area. (Photo: TS/IAEA)

Almost 40 participants from 21 countries in the Europe region[1] have enhanced their theoretical and practical knowledge of quality assurance as it relates to the measurement and monitoring of radioactivity in the environment at an IAEA workshop in Pécs, Hungary, which took place from 6 to 10 November.

The workshop is the final event in a series of workshops organized between 2016 and 2017 within the framework of an IAEA regional technical cooperation project[2]. The series was designed to enhance the theoretical and practical knowledge of participants from supported European countries in the environmental monitoring of both anthropogenic and natural radionuclides.

The technical cooperation project aims to further develop the capabilities in the region to conduct source and environmental monitoring and to improve quality assurance for the measurements and monitoring of radioactivity in the environment in accordance with ISO 17025. This will assure future metrological comparability of measurement results and the harmonization of approaches and procedures at the regional level.

The course was developed by the IAEA’s Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, together with two IAEA Collaborating Centres, the Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland and the Radioanalytical Reference Laboratory of the National Food Chain Safety Office in Hungary, which provided technical and scientific support for its implementation.

Participants at the regional workshop in Pécs, which focused on in situ methods for contaminated site characterisation, benefited not only from theoretical courses, but also from practical exercises which were carried out in real field conditions over three consecutive days. The aim of the exercises was to practice methods that included in situ gamma-ray spectrometry, route monitoring, gamma dose rate measurements and surface contamination assessment using portable equipment.

This workshop has been useful for us to improve our knowledge regarding the role of the Radiological Emergency Teams, as well as regarding the use of measuring devices in real in-situ exercises. Sharing experiences with different field specialists about challenges that we can be faced with during in situ measurements has been very important too.
Manjola Shyti Ph.D., Head of Radiometry & Radiochemistry Department, University of Tirana, Albania

Installation of the in-situ gamma ray spectrometer on the simulated contaminated site. (Photo : TS/IAEA)

Different measurement tasks were covered in a range of exercises. These included in situ gamma-ray spectrometry of a large simulated surface mosaic sample to check the calibration of the spectrometry system, and object measurement of the activity content of a yellowcake precipitation tank which is part of a uranium production chain. Participants also learned to locate radiation dose hotspots at a natural radioactivity anomaly site (uranium ore outcrop) and to characterise sites contaminated by naturally occuring radioactive materials. Best practices and professional experience on in situ radioanalytical techniques were also shared.

The participants’ newly acquired knowledge and experience will strengthen their capabilities in characterizing sites contaminated by radioactive substances.

 

[1] Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine.

[2] RER7008,  ‘Strengthening Capabilities for Radionuclide Measurement in the Environment and Enhancing QA/QC System for Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring’

Participants assemble for a group photo after a field exercise. (Photo: TS/IAEA)

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