Establishing a radioanalytical capability to support reactor decommissioning

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South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association
Australia’s first reactor, the 1O megawatt High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) vi/as operated between 1958 and 2007. HIFAR was one of six DIDO reactors which were installed in the UK, Denmark, Germany and Australia. HIFAR was a multi-purpose reactor, initially used for nuclear material research followed by production of medical radioisotope; an: neutron diffraction experiments. Atter HIFAR was closed, a process of decommissioning commenced. Initially, internal components such as the fuel and heavy water (which acted as primary coolant and neutron moderator) were removed. Currently, HIFAR is in a “care and maintenance" phase whereby short-lived radionuclides can decay and non-radioactive equipment and instrumentation removed. Approximately 1OO research and power reactors have been decommissioned around the world including two of the DIDO class reactors at Harwell, UK and Risø, Denmark. ANSTO can draw on international experience as we as well as experience gained during decommissioning of its own 100 kilowatt Moata reactor in 2010. Accurate identification and quantification of radioactivity is a critical safety, environmental and economic aspect of any nuclear reactor decommissioning project as it supports decision making around long-term storage of disposal options of reactor materials as well as environmental assessment of the reactor site. A capability to quantify typical radionuclides found in reactor materials and environmental samples is being developed at ANSTO. Reactor materials that may require assessment include concrete, graphite and steel and environmental samples include soils and waters. Radionuclides of interest are predominantly beta- and gamma-emitting fission and activation products. Non—destructive, high resolution gamma spectrometry will be applied to quantify gamma emitting radionuclides such as 60Co, 66Zn, 133 Ba, 137Cs, 152 Eu, and 154Eu. The complex matrix of some reactor materials will cause attenuation of gamma photons and empirical and/or theoretical corrections will be applied. Beta-emitting radionuclides with weak or no gamma emission lines cannot be easily identified or quantified in solid materials using non-destructive techniques. This is due to attenuation of the beta particles, the nature of the beta emission spectrum and interferences from other beta- and gamma-emitting radionuclides. A suite of destructive radioanalytical techniques, designed to isolate and quantify beta-emitting radionuclides such as 3H, 14C, 36CI, 55Fe, 63Ni, 98Sr and 99Tc is being developed. This paper will present the timeline for development and the progress to date of this radioanalytical capability which will support the current and future decommissioning needs of Australia and our region.
Decommissioning, Reactor decommissioning, HIFAR Reactor, MOATA Reactor, Radioactivity, Radioisotopes, Waste disposal, DIDO Reactor
Harrison, J., Martiniello, J., Mokhber Shahin, L., Rowling, B., Silitonga, A., Thiruvoth, S., Vardenega, C., Van De Voorde, R., Wilsher, K. L., & Wong. H. (2018). Establishing a radioanalytical capability to support reactor decommissioning. Paper presented to the SPERA Conference 2018, "Bringing environmental radioactivity research to Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, 6 - 9 November 2018. (pp. 53-54).