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Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM)

As greater attention is being directed toward the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of nuclear facilities, the need for a standardized approach for implementing the necessary radiological surveys has become increasingly important.

A multi-agency committee representing the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has addressed this need by producing a guidance document known as the Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM).

Published in December 1997, MARSSIM provides detailed guidance for planning, implementing and evaluating environmental and facility radiological surveys to demonstrate compliance with a dose- or risk-based regulation. MARSSIM focuses on the demonstration of compliance during the final status survey once scoping, characterization and any necessary remedial actions are completed.

MARSSIM provides a single, nationally consistent guide for verifying that radioactively contaminated sites have been cleaned up to standards. Combining this information into one manual has increased efficiency, and has eliminated the confusion that can result from contractors working from multiple manuals.

ORISE’s involvement in the development of MARSSIM

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) maintained an important role in the development of the manual because of our vast experience in designing and conducting radiological surveys. ORISE has demonstrated its expertise through:

  • original MARSSIM workgroup membership
  • development of COMPASS software to facilitate the use of MARSSIM
  • development of the first MARSSIM training course with more than 80 courses successfully completed


Support to MARSSIM users is offered through a five-day training course (offered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities) for individuals who will be responsible for the decision-making processes involved in the design and implementation of a MARSSIM-based D&D survey.

The MARSSIM course is offered several times each year in Oak Ridge, Tenn., but can also be arranged to accommodate off-site training requests. Additional information on the course, its schedule, and how to register can be found on the ORAU website.