Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Support

EVS Technical Support Improves International Atomic Energy Agency Training for Restoration of Sites Contaminated with Radioactive Materials.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supports efforts by its Member States to manage their nuclear and radiological liabilities through radioactive waste management, decommissioning of facilities, and remediation of contaminated sites.

For more than three decades, Environmental Science Division (EVS) staff members have been involved with characterization and remediation planning for U.S. sites having radioactive contamination in soils, sediments, and groundwater. In many cases, the innovative approaches expedite the process and reduce costs. Now EVS is using its experience to assist the IAEA in developing programs supporting Member States in the remediation of sites contaminated with radioactive materials.

One element of the EVS assistance — technical training courses held at Argonne for selected Member State participants — is provided through Argonne’s International Program. The training courses are jointly funded by the U.S. Department of State and the IAEA.

In the courses, experts from EVS and the Nuclear Engineering Division’s Decontamination and Decommissioning Program provide an overview of the life-cycle facility decommissioning and remediation process, integrating the discussions with explanations of cost-effective and innovative approaches for achieving environmental characterization and reaching remediation decisions. Over the past several years, lectures and hands-on exercises have been conducted by experts in the field, including staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The training has provided the participants with important technical tools and approaches to designing and implementing safe, cost-effective remediation strategies.

One of the many challenges of this program is that course participants vary widely in background, experience, training, and English language skills, as they come from around the world, representing 35 countries to date. To establish a foundational set of concepts for prospective participants in the annual training program and take advantage of cost-effective web-based training capabilities, the IAEA advocated the development of online training in the basic concepts of environmental remediation. The IAEA commissioned EVS to develop a five-module online course that includes (1) introductory concepts, (2) the environmental remediation planning process, (3) environmental remediation implementation, (4) post-remediation site management, and (5) exemplary case studies. The online basic training enhances the effectiveness of in-person training courses and increases the success of the IAEA's public outreach activities.

Example screen from first Level 0 training module.
Example screen from first Level 0 training module.

Beyond training, EVS staff members participate, at the IAEA’s request, in IAEA working groups that have included radioactive waste disposal issues and the IAEA’s Network of Environmental Management and Remediation initiative. This involvement showcases EVS expertise in diverse areas related to radioactive contamination cleanup, such as dose/risk assessment, innovative characterization techniques, naturally occurring radioactive materials, site remediation options, and final status surveys.

These key Argonne areas of expertise and staff members have been associated with the IAEA activities:

Related Research Areas

See the Research Highlights Index for a complete list of EVS Research Areas.

photo of Karen Smith
Environmental Scientist
Capabilities: Energy and environmental policy and regulatory analysis; environmental impact analysis; research on and assessment of issues associated with land management, energy development, and sustainable resource management; environmental site remediation; program development; project management.