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Characterization surveys

ORAU provides characterization surveys to determine scope of radiological contamination

Characterization survey

As many of our country’s aging nuclear facilities undergo decontamination and decommissioning (D&D), ORAU partners with state and federal government agencies to provide objective characterization surveys to define the extent of radiological contamination at a designated site.

A fundamental aspect of all D&D projects, characterization surveys provide guidance to determine the best remediation procedures and are a cost-effective method of ensuring your cleanup project meets preliminary regulatory standards.

We are committed to developing and implementing innovative approaches to site characterization to ensure safe and complete cleanup of contaminated sites. ORAU designs characterization surveys using the data quality objectives process. Data collection efforts are streamlined, allowing more resources to be spent on actual cleanup and risk reduction efforts. We have even contributed our expertise to the development of the ANSI N13.59 standard on characterization.

Characterization surveys include thorough surface scans for gamma radiation, as well as collection of environmental samples for analysis. Our staff of health physicists and technicians use sophisticated Global Positioning Systems to ensure measurements are accurately documented.

How characterization surveys can benefit your D&D project:

  • Reduce uncertainty in the estimates of contaminated land and facilities
  • Allow evaluation of various cleanup alternatives (unrestricted vs. restricted release)
  • Ensure minimal safety and health impact to cleanup workers and the environment
  • Produce reliable estimates of radioactive waste volumes generated during decontamination and decommissioning activities
  • Greatly enhance public credibility and builds stakeholder trust in environmental cleanup activities

We also provide preliminary or scoping surveys to help you prepare a plan for a more in-depth assessment. 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.

To determine whether a site is contaminated to the extent that guideline levels are exceeded, our experts can conduct designation or inclusion surveys. We obtain detailed measurements to identify sampling locations. Survey procedures include a complete surface scan followed by direct measurements and sampling.

Learn more about ORAU’s recent accomplishments in independent environmental assessment and verification.

Featured videos

John Eschenberg

DOE partners with ORISE to accelerate cleanup (1:23)

Former DOE Assistant Manager for Environmental Management John Eschenberg discussed how ORISE helped DOE accelerate their cleanup efforts on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Lee McGetrick

DOE praises ORISE characterization work at ORNL (1:07)

Former DOE Recovery Act Manager Lee McGetrick discussed how ORISE’s work characterizing waste at 34 ORNL facilities helped DOE save 6-12 months in their cleanup schedule.


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