Decommissioning Health Physics: A Handbook for MARSSIM Users, Second Edition

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  • Provides real-world MARSSIM examples that reflect commonly encountered situations and solutions
  • Presents a new approach for deriving hot spot limits based on detailed dose modeling
  • Covers decommissioning survey strategies for various facilities, including nuclear power reactors, uranium/thorium sites, and university/research facilities
  • Contains detailed derivations and applications of detection sensitivity concepts for survey instruments, including scan minimum detectable concentrations (MDCs)
  • Includes characterization survey design examples based on the DQO process and ANSI N13.59
  • Discusses a clearance survey approach based on the integration of MARSAME and draft NUREG-1761 guidance
  • Describes the practical application of statistics to numerous D&D problems encountered in the field


Experienced Guidance on the Technical Issues of Decommissioning Projects
Written by one of the original MARSSIM authors, Decommissioning Health Physics: A Handbook for MARSSIM Users, Second Edition is the only book to incorporate all of the requisite technical aspects of planning and executing radiological surveys in support of decommissioning. Extensively revised and updated, it covers survey instrumentation, detection sensitivity, statistics, dose modeling, survey procedures, and release criteria.

New to the Second Edition

  • Chapter on hot spot assessment that recognizes appropriate dosimetric significance of hot spots when designing surveys and includes a new approach for establishing hot spot limits
  • Chapter on the clearance or release of materials, highlighting aspects of the MARSAME manual
  • Revised chapter on characterization survey design to reflect guidance in ANSI N13.59 on the value of data quality objectives (DQOs)
  • Updated regulations and guidance documents throughout
  • Updated survey instrumentation used to support decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) surveys, including expanded coverage of in situ gamma spectrometers
  • Revised statistics chapter that includes an introduction to Bayesian statistics and additional double sampling and ranked set sampling statistical approaches
  • More case studies and examples throughout

Implement the Surveys Effectively and Avoid Common Pitfalls
With more than 20 years of experience as a practitioner in the decommissioning survey field, author Eric W. Abelquist prepares you for the technical challenges associated with planning and executing MARSSIM surveys. He discusses the application of statistics for survey design and data reduction and addresses the selection of survey instrumentation and detection sensitivity. He presents final status survey procedures and covers pathway modeling to translate release criteria to measurable quantities. He also offers solutions for navigating the complexity inherent in designing and implementing MARSSIM and MARSAME surveys. Detailed derivations, thorough discussions of technical bases, and real-world examples and case studies illustrate effective strategies for demonstrating to regulators and stakeholders that contaminated sites can be released for other beneficial uses.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Current Issues in Decommissioning and MARSSIM Overview
Decommissioning Overview
MARSSIM Overview
Clearance of Materials Overview

Decommissioning Project Overview and Regulatory Agency Interface
Decommissioning Options
Decommissioning Project Phases
Radiological Surveys Performed during Decommissioning
Regulator y Agency Interface When Designing MARSSIM Surveys

Characterization Surveys and the DQO Process
DQOs Process and Application to Characterization
Decommissioning Objectives of Characterization: Data Needed to Make Decisions
Characterization Survey Design and Considerations
Characterization Survey Activities
Characterization Survey Results to Support MARSSIM FSS Design

Guidelines and Dose-Based Release Criteria
Historic Release Criteria and Guidance Documents
Dose-Based Release Criteria and NRC’s Decommissioning Rulemaking
Clearance of Materials and ANSI N13.12

Exposure Pathway Modeling: DCGLs and Hazard Assessments
Screening versus Site-Specific: When Is It Time to Go beyond the Screening DCGLs?
Exposure Pathway Modeling: Scenarios, Pathways, and Parameters
Modeling Codes
Determination of DCGLs and Area Factors
Hazard Assessments: An Early Application of Dose-Based Release Criteria?

Preliminary Survey Design Concerns and Application of DCGLs
Direct Application of DCGLs
Us e of DCGLs for Sites with Multiple Radionuclides

Background Determination and Background Reference Areas
Background Reference Areas and Related Considerations
Surface Material Backgrounds
Scenario B Survey Design: Indistinguishable from the Background
Scenario A versus Scenario B FSS Designs

Survey Instrumentation Selection and Calibration
Calibration for Surface Activity Measurement Instruments
Overview of Survey Instrumentation and Philosophy of Instrument Selection
Survey Instrumentation for Surface Activity Measurements and Scanning
Determination of Instrument Efficiency for Surface Activity Measurements
Survey Instrumentation for Exposure Rate Measurements
Laboratory Instrumentation

Detection Sensitivity: Static and Scan MDCs
Critical Level and Detection Limit
Static MDC
Scan MDC

Survey Procedures and Measurement Data Interpretation
Surface-Activity Measurements
Scanning Building Surfaces and Land Areas
Gamma Spectrometry Analyses for Soil

Radiological Hot-Spot Survey Considerations
Introduction: Current Hot-Spot Approach
Hot-Spot Limits in Soil
Hot-Spot Limits on Building Surfaces
Bayesian Statistical Approach to Assess Hot Spots

Statistics and Hypothesis Testing
Basic Population Statistics and Confidence Interval Testing
Data Distributions
Hypo thesis Testing
Bayesian Statistics

MARSSIM Final Survey Design and Strategies
FSS Protocols Prior to MARSSIM
Overview of MARSSIM Survey Design
Surface-Activity Measurements: Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test or Sign Test?
Comparison of MARSSIM and NUREG/CR-5849 FSSS for Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning Projects
Annotated MARSSIM Examples
MARSSIM FSS Design Strategies: Understanding the Power Curve
Ranked Set Sampling

MARSSIM Data Reduction
Data Quality Assessment for the Sign Test for Co-60 in Soil
Data Quality Assessment for the WRS Test for Uranium and Thorium in Soil

What If the Survey Unit Fails?

Clearance of Materials
Clearance: A Controversial History
MARSAME and DQOs for the Release of Materials
Release Criteria, Process Knowledge, and Other Survey Design Considerations
Detection Limits for Material Release Surveys
Clearance Survey Approaches

Decommissioning Survey Applications at Various Facility Types
Uranium Sites
Thorium and Radium Sites
Power Reactor
University/Research Facilities

FSS Reports and Measurement Uncertainty
FSS Report Content
Reporting Survey Results: Measurement of Uncertainties and Error Propagation

Practical Applications of Statistics to Support Decommissioning Activities
Tests for Data Normality
Applications of Statistics in Decommissioning: Comparison of Data Sets
Case Study: Comparing Cs-137 Concentration in Class 3 Area with Background Reference Area Using Both t Test and WRS Test

International Decommissioning Perspectives


Solutions to Selected Questions and Problems

Appendix A: Radionuclide and Natural Decay Series Characteristics
Appendix B: MARSSIM WRS and Sign Test Sample Sizes
Appendix C: Example Decommissioning Inspection Plan for Final Status Survey Program


Questions and Problems appear at the end of each chapter.

Author Bio(s)

Eric W. Abelquist, PhD, CHP, is the executive vice president of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and deputy director of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). He helps oversee organizational best practices, program and business unit leadership, and community relations. He also works directly with the president/CEO to formulate organizational strategic objectives, manage key strategic initiatives, and advise on scientific and engineering issues that advance research and education opportunities. He was previously the associate director for Independent Environmental Assessment and Verification (IEAV) at ORAU, where he contributed to the development and implementation of the Multiagency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM). He received a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee.

Editorial Reviews

"This book is the most complete treatment of the topic I’ve seen—including chapters on virtually every aspect of MARSSIM as well as problems to solve and worked-out solutions for many of them in the back (making it a great textbook on the topic for anyone teaching a graduate class or short course on the topic). It’s also a great reference since the chapters include equations, reference tables and plots, and a nice selection of case studies and examples. … The second edition is not only updated to reflect the latest and greatest guidance, it also includes some new material. … a tremendously useful book to have on your shelf. If you are actively involved in characterizing or remediating sites, I dare say it’s essential. But even if you’re not engaged in this sort of work, it’s worth adding to your library for the chapters on counting and sampling statistics, for the discussion of developing survey plans, for the material on instruments, and for much more. Throughout, the writing is clear and easy to follow, and Eric does a great job of explaining concepts that are often not intuitive. I’m glad to have it on my bookshelf, and I anticipate using it as a professional reference as well as for teaching in coming years."
Health Physics News, May 2014