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Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Assessment of Materials and Equipment (MARSAME) resources

ORISE provides training and support for agencies required to use MARSAME for property clearance programs

Decommissioned site

The Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Assessment of Materials and Equipment manual (MARSAME) is a resource developed to help with the disposition of metals, concrete, tools, piping, furniture, solids, liquids, and gases in containers, and similar non-real property that were part of former nuclear sites that have undergone decontamination and decommissioning (D&D).

The MARSAME manual was published in January 2009 as a supplement to the Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM 2002) and is a critical resource for federal agencies involved in property clearance programs at D&D sites.

The MARSAME manual was developed as a joint effort between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Since the release of the MARSAME manual, ORISE has led the way in providing training courses and instruction on using it.

MARSAME training

The training courses led by ORISE staff focus on the methodology and practical application of the MARSAME standard and provide participants with essential technical information to apply the MARSAME manual in support of property clearance programs.

MARSAME user needs


Glossary of MARSAME terms

The complete MARSAME manual is more than 400 pages in length. To help distill some of the more important parts of the manual for users who are new to MARSAME, ORISE offers the following glossary of terms.

Action level
The numerical value that causes a decision-maker to choose one of the alternative actions. In the context of MARSAME, the numerical value is the radionuclide concentration or level of radioactivity corresponding to the disposition criterion, and the alternative actions are determined by the selection of a disposition option. In MARSSIM, this was referred to as the derived concentration guideline level.
The act of determining whether M&E are impacted or non-impacted. This is a departure from MARSSIM where this decision was included in the definition of classification.
The future use, fate, or final location for something (e.g., recycle, reuse, disposal).
Disposition criterion
In MARSSIM, this was referred to as the release criterion.
Disposition decision
The selection among alternative actions to determine acceptable future use, fate, or final location for something (e.g., recycle, reuse, disposal).
Disposition survey
A radiological survey designed to collect information to support a disposition decision. In MARSSIM, this was referred to as the final status survey.
Initial assessment (IA)
An investigation to collect existing information describing materials and equipment and is similar to the historical site assessment (HSA) described in MARSSIM.
An increase in the level of radiological control or a decision not to accept control from another party. Examples of interdiction include identification of radioactive material that results in the initiation of radiological controls or identification of unauthorized movement of radioactive material.
Interdiction survey
The collection of data to support an interdiction decision regarding M&E. In general, interdiction surveys are used to accept or refuse to accept control of M&E that are potentially radioactive. The goal of an interdiction survey often is to detect radioactive M&E that should be controlled. In some cases, an interdiction survey may result in the impoundment of radioactive M&E that represent an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.
Materials and equipment (M&E)
Items considered for disposition that include metals, concrete, dispersible bulk materials, tools, equipment, piping, conduit, furniture, solids, liquids, and gases in containers, etc. M&E are considered non-real property distinguishable from buildings and land, which are considered real property.
Measurement quality objectives (MQOs)
A statement of a performance objective or requirement for a particular method performance characteristic (MARLAP 2004).
Minimum quantifiable concentration (MQC)
The smallest value of the concentration that ensures the relative standard deviation of a measurement of M&E with that concentration does not exceed a specified value, usually 10%.
Sentinel measurement
A biased measurement performed at a key location to provide information specific to the objectives of the initial assessment (IA).

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MARSAME manual cover

Who was Pafnuty Chebyshev and why should you care when it comes to MARSAME?

Pafnuty Lvovich Chebyshev was a Russian mathematician known for his work in the field of probability, statistics, and number theory. In MARSAME, he is cited in Chapter 6 related to the calculation of an Upper Confidence Limit (UCL) and its relationship to sample size, the Action Level, and impact on determining whether the null hypothesis that the level of radioactivity exceeds the disposition criterion is accepted or rejected. Unfortunately, MARSAME contains an apparent error related to the calculation.

On page 6-15 of the MARSAME manual, in Equation 6-3, the plus sign under the radical should be a minus sign, and the answer should be 39,419 cpm. In the next paragraph, describing the ProUCL software, the 95% Chebyshev UCL calculated according to Section 6.4.1 should be 39,495 rather than 39,474, and the revised answer does then agree with that calculated by ProUCL.