Characterization

The traditional approach to characterization is to collect as many samples as you can and analyze them, often without integrating that information with other data that is available. We’ve abandoned this highly compartmentalized approach in favor of combining data from sample media and in situ measurements to develop a characterization model. We then use in-process measurements to confirm the model, in an integrated approach that sets us apart.

One of our particular strengths is in coordinating with other disciplines, and drawing data from a variety of proven resources. When we characterize a facility, for instance, we pull information from various functional areas, such as radiological control, environmental, and industrial hygiene. Incorporating this data into our models together with our own findings greatly streamlines the process, giving the client a more accurate result, more quickly and at less cost.

It can be a challenge to identify the most appropriate detector technology to characterize material accurately. For example, while supporting the DOE’s remediation of the 300 Area at Hanford, we combine in situ measurement methodologies and sampling results with modeling to determine how much radioactive material is present. We then analyze our findings from the perspective of how to handle, package and dispose of the contaminated material.

And when the Department of Defense wanted to clean up a firing range at its Alameda Naval Air Station, it found that the site was contaminated with radioactive material. We used various detector technologies and sampling approaches to characterize different types of radionuclides present in a large land area. This approach called for a lot of challenging analysis and extrapolation, but in the end we were able to develop an accurate picture of the extent of the contamination.

When we can’t take physical samples from a contaminated system, we use non-destructive assay methods to develop an estimate. Based on that, we can identify the contamination path and develop controls.