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Energy and Environment Directorate

Research Capabilities

Remote Radiochemical Sensing

PNNL staff collaborated with Burge Environmental, Inc. to develop remote sensing systems to measure radionuclides such as strontium-90, technetium-99, iodine-129, tritium, and uranium in groundwater. These systems are capable of automated sample collection from shallow wells or aquifer tubes, sample pretreatment, and delivery of prepared samples to various radiochemical sensor modules. As shown in the photographs below, prototype systems have been deployed to various locations at the Hanford Site: 100-N Area (strontium-90 [A]), the 200-W Area ZP-1 Pump & Treat Plant (technetium-99 [B]), and 300 Area North (uranium [C]). These systems are in varying phases of deployment and operation. PNNL staff and Burge Environmental, Inc. are also collaborating to develop a laboratory prototype of a tritium monitor for proof-of-concept performance testing. Future funding will enable the deployment of this technology into the field.

The remote sensing systems may be used for remote monitoring of contamination plumes, in a treatment plant, or in locations of active in situ remediation (e.g., to monitor contaminant concentrations going into and emerging from a remediation transect). Scientific efforts are expected to lead to automatic uploading of analytical data into a remote server that can continuously perform two- or three-dimensional modeling of the subsurface plumes, or can actively monitor the near-real time performance of pump and treat plants.

SR-90 monitor and Tc-99 pump
uranium monitor

Three radionuclide monitoring systems deployed at the Hanford Site, Washington: a) Sr-90 monitor; b) Tc-99 pump and treat process monitor; and c) uranium monitor

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Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas