04 Dec 2021

Waterford woman awarded funding for research into radiation monitoring

Waterford woman awarded funding for research into radiation monitoring

Waterford Institute of Technology's Dr. Claire Keary

Researcher in the School of Science and Computing at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Dr Claire Keary, has been awarded funding for research into radiation monitoring under the EPA's research programme 2014-2020.

This research programme provides funding under three pillars, which are sustainability, climate and water.

WIT was awarded this funding under the Research Sustainability Call.

Funding of €198,000 was secured for a three-year project entitled Radioactivity in the Irish Coastal Environment (RICE), which will be carried out in collaboration with UCD, NUIG and the EPA’s Radiation Monitoring Laboratory.

Physics staff and students at WIT have been collaborating with the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection and Environmental Monitoring (ORM) for a number of years in the area of environmental radiation monitoring. WIT recently signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the EPA to provide a framework for enhanced cooperation in areas of mutual interest in environmental radiation monitoring.

The EPA-funded project will involve measurement of radioactivity levels in the Irish coastal environment and identifying sample locations subject to, or potentially subject to, the accumulation of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), such as ports and harbours.

"The project will seek to develop robust and accurate methods for the determination of natural radionuclides by the technique of high-resolution gamma spectrometry," says RICE project principal investigator Dr. Claire Keary.

"By applying these methods to the analysis of selected dredge material samples, the project will consider the application of international guidelines to assess the suitability, from a radiological perspective, of the disposal of these materials at sea in relation to NORM.”

Dr Chris Burbidge, a collaborator from the EPA’s ORM, adds: “The RICE project will support and enhance the EPA’s current analytical capability in the area of high-resolution gamma spectrometry. The project will also inform the development of policies in terms of NORM and the impact of practices involving NORM materials on the Irish coastal environment, which are of particular importance in relation to new radiation protection legislation.

"The results obtained will contribute to the EPA’s environmental radioactivity monitoring programme, which is carried out in order to comply with its statutory and international obligations to assess doses to individuals and the population, and to ensure that any increase in radiation levels are detected and assessed rapidly.”

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