Radiological Services: Sampling, Characterisation and Remediation

12 May 2010

As experienced practitioners of the US EPA Data Quality System, RPS’ Radiological Services team designs and implements robust sampling strategies to provide clients with a high level of confidence in the characterisation and disposal of both radioactive and hazardous wastes. This includes integrating the Data Quality Objectives (DQO) process with the Nuclear Code of Practice (NiCoP) Clearance and Exemption principles, processes and practices to support waste characterisation projects.

RPS is a member of the SAFESPUR Forum (set up by industry to develop good practice for the management of contaminated land and decommissioning wastes on defence and nuclear sites) and is also actively involved in the international BIOPROTA forum, which addresses environmental assessment issues relating to the geological disposal of radioactive waste.

On defence sites the Radiological Services team works alongside RPS’ Explosive Engineering team, allowing RPS to provide clients with integrated methods of dealing with sites affected by buried ordnance, explosive, chemical and radiological contamination issues.

RPS has been involved with a variety of different potentially radioactively contaminated sites including former Ministry of Defence land, nuclear licensed sites, former hospitals, industrial facilities, landfills, and research sites.

The Radiological Services team has been supporting BAM Nuttall Limited in a redevelopment programme at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington since 2005. The site has historically used a wide range of radioactive substances as far back as the 1940s and past practices had resulted in both radiological and chemical contamination of buildings and land. Some of the contamination only became apparent when buildings were vacated and monitoring was undertaken with highly sensitive instrumentation not available decades ago which revealed contamination that was shielded when the building was occupied.

The support provided to BAM Nuttall at the National Physical Laboratory included:

  • Building characterisation including non-intrusive and intrusive radiological surveys, Type-3 asbestos surveys and hazardous materials surveys;
  • Soil waste classification surveys to assist in the correct assignment of excavated waste in line with the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 and Landfill Regulations (as amended) 2005;
  • Application to the Environment Agency for authorisation to accumulate and dispose of radioactive waste and ongoing liaison;
  • Options study to identify the most appropriate routes for disposal of radioactively contaminated waste, and liaison with potential waste recipients;
  • Design of a technical specification for the remediation of identified areas of elevated radioactivity in buildings and soil and technical oversight of decommissioning works;
  • Remediation of radioactively and chemically contaminated land; and
  • Development of soil remediation target levels for the site to protect the health of future site occupants and final validation that elevated levels of radioactivity had been removed to an acceptable level.

The work – which was carried out with the full involvement of the Environment Agency – was completed on time and within budget.

As a result of the high quality work carried out at the NPL, the Radiological Services team has been appointed to advise on the decommissioning of a large university biosciences building. The RPS Radiation Protection Adviser is currently in discussion with the client and the Environment Agency to address all radiological protection and waste management issues.

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