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Radiochemical analyses

ORISE techinican performs a radiochemical analysis

To complement our environmental assessment and health physics capabilities, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) maintains a radiochemistry laboratory that facilitates the analysis of environmental samples and unique matrices.

ORISE performs radiochemical analyses exclusively for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), as well as provides support to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies and state governments.

Key laboratory capabilities include:

  • Alpha spectroscopy
  • Gamma spectroscopy
  • Liquid scintillation spectroscopy
  • Low-background gross alpha and beta assays
  • Radiochemical analyses for alpha and beta emitters
  • Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS)
    • ORAU has also received DOECAP approval to perform Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS) for metals analysis. This highly specialized instrument expands the ORAU Radiochemistry Laboratory capabilities and results in improved value and efficiency for our DOE customers by eliminating the need to send samples, such as organic compounds, metals, mercury, and TCLP metals, to multiple laboratories.

The turnaround time for sample analysis of routine environmental matrices is typically 30 working days depending on the number of samples. The laboratory is also capable of handling special requests for rush processing when circumstances require more rapid response.

Quality assurance

The radiochemistry laboratory's quality assurance program meets the requirements of industry-recognized regulatory agencies and standards bodies. The program analyzes more than 150 performance evaluation samples each year and also undergoes regular internal and external quality assurance audits.

Experienced chemists at ORISE maintain the highest quality standards and productivity in the areas of:

  • Sample tracking and preparation
  • Gamma counting
  • Alpha isotopic analysis
  • Alpha and beta counting
  • Data analysis
  • Quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) and data reporting

Did you know?

The ORISE radiochemistry laboratory, where environmental samples collected at survey sites are independently analyzed for radiological and chemical contaminants, houses a new Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer.

The specialized instrument—which reduces lab time and allows for more types of analysis—ionizes various types of samples and uses a mass spectrometer to separate and quantify contaminants in the samples such as lead, arsenic and uranium.