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Environmental assessments

An ORISE technicians performs an environmental assessment

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) performs independent, objective environmental assessments to define the extent of radiological contamination at sites scheduled for decontamination and decommissioning (D&D). A fundamental aspect of all D&D projects, these environmental assessments provide guidance to determine the best remediation procedures and are a cost-effective method of ensuring a site meets preliminary regulatory standards.

ORISE designs environmental assessments using the data quality objectives process. This approach focuses on the particular objective of the assessment, and ensures that only the data needed to address the assessment decisions are collected. Data collection efforts are streamlined, allowing more resources to be spent on actual cleanup and risk reduction efforts. The environmental assessments consists of surface scans using Global Positioning Systems to document locations where radiation has been detected, as well as media sampling and radiochemical analyses.

In conjunction with the environmental assessment, ORISE health physicists can also provide reviews of waste management plans and develop waste profiles. These analyses help ensure independent evaluation of the radiological contaminants present at the survey site is adequate to eventual material disposition.

Benefits of ORISE environmental assessments:

  • Reduces uncertainty in the estimates of contaminated land and facilities.
  • Allows evaluation of various cleanup alternatives (unrestricted vs. restricted release).
  • Ensures minimal safety and health impact to cleanup workers and the environment.
  • Produces reliable estimates of radioactive waste volumes generated during D&D activities.
  • Greatly enhances public credibility and builds stakeholder trust in environmental cleanup activities.

ORISE also provides preliminary or scoping surveys to help our customers prepare for a more in-depth evaulation. Scoping surveys typically include only cursory scanning and measurements and limited judgmental sampling to determine the presence of radioactive contaminants and identify possible paths of migration.

Designation or inclusion surveys can also be performed to determine whether a site is contaminated to the extent that regulatory guideline levels are exceeded. Survey procedures include a complete surface scan followed by direct measurements and collection of environmental samples.