A Little History
The section's initial charge was to provide radiochemical analyses in support of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s then recent inclusion of Radionuclides as regulated parameters [41FR28401, Aug. 9, 1976]. In January of 1979, the section obtained U.S.-EPA Region 6 certification for the measurement of gross alpha, gross beta, Ra-226 and Ra-228 in drinking water. This certification has been retained ever since. After the procurement of gamma spectroscopy instrumentation, and participation in that portion of the EPA proficiency program, the laboratory received, in Mar-1985, certification for that measurement as well; which has likewise been retained.
After accomplishing SDWA certification, the section moved into non-drinking water areas and developed the capability to handle a broader range of sample media, e.g. water with sediment, soils and air filters. Requests for handling such sample media have fluctuated. During the mid-1980’s there was a program for analyzing air filters from the Grants Mineral Belt for U-238/4, Th-230, Ra-226 and Pb-210; however, that program has gone the way of uranium mining and milling. During the early 1990’s there was a project that submitted several roadside dirt samples so as to establish an occurrence baseline for several radionuclides.
The radiochemistry section of SLD has been significantly involved in the following unique historical projects:
- The Churchrock Uranium Mill Tailings Dam failure of ~1978.
- Cobalt-60 In Rebar Saga of Jan-1984. ( See "Science", vol-223, pp1152-4, 16-Mar-1984. )
- Polonium-210 in diesel fuel episode of ~1986.
- The revelation of contamination of a local facility with Sc-46, Ag-100m, Sb-122/124, Ir-192 & Au-198 in mid-1990.
- "A New Mexico Wellhead Survey On The Occurrence of Radon-222 At Public Water Supplies" Prepared: June 1994. Word (.doc) or WordPerfect (.wpd)
- The discovery of Sc-46 and Sb-124 in oil field waste sand disposal drums from southeast New Mexico in Jan-1998