Improvements to groundwater monitoring to be trialled at Sellafield

In the latest of its case studies on innovation in decommissioning the NDA has highlighted a portable system for monitoring levels of contaminated groundwater in situ is set to improve the quality and accuracy of data.

Information on conditions above and below ground is vital in the clean-up of nuclear sites, but currently this is done by physically taking samples from boreholes and analysing them at a lab. However, this is resource intensive and generally takes 4-8 weeks for results to be produced.

A new technique using liquid scintillation counting technology, is to be trialled at Sellafield. Mounted in a mobile enclosure, the equipment can be left in situ over a period of several weeks to collect small samples on a frequent basis, perform the analysis and record and transmit the data to a remotely located base station. This produces more frequent, accurate data on both radioactive and non-radioactive contamination, which allows trends to be identified more easily, while analysis times are faster and costs are reduced.

The case study can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/new-technique-measures-goundwater-contamination