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Carbon-14 Bioassay for Decommissioning of Hanford Reactors

Carbaugh, Eugene H.*; Watson, David J.

doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3182430128
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The production reactors at the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site used large graphite piles as the moderator. As part of long-term decommissioning plans, the potential need for 14C radiobioassay of workers was identified. Technical issues associated with 14C bioassay and worker monitoring were investigated, including anticipated graphite characterization, potential intake scenarios, and the bioassay capabilities that may be required to support the decommissioning of the graphite piles. A combination of urine and feces sampling would likely be required for the absorption type S 14C anticipated to be encountered. However, the concentrations in the graphite piles appear to be sufficiently low that dosimetrically significant intakes of 14C are not credible, thus rendering moot the need for such bioassay.

Type S 14C associated with decommissioning graphite moderated reactors may pose some challenges for bioassay program design, but the associated doses may be insignificant.

*Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012Health Physics Society