2 June 2015

Training Course on Rapid Assessment Methods for Environmental Radioactivity successfully completed at the Argonne National Laboratory

Designation of CICA as a Collaborating Centre

Participants of the 2015 Rapid Assessment Methods Training Course getting trained at the Argonne National Laboratory

'The practical knowledge that I have gained from this training is very important and I can now share this valuable experience with my colleagues back home,' said Thiwanka Appuhamillag, a student from Sri Lanka. This positive response was just one among many that were expressed at the closing of the 2nd Training Course on Rapid Assessment Methods for Environmental Radioactivity, organized in collaboration with the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in the USA in May. The two-week course provided lectures and practical hands-on laboratory training to 22 students from 20 different countries. The course was a 'unique occasion to practice the latest techniques used, and to learn new methodologies, especially in alpha spectrometry,' said Asivelo Solonjara, another student from Madagascar.

This course is designed to address the needs of ALMERA (Analytical Laboratories for the Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity) network laboratories interested in enhancing their rapid analytical capabilities for assessing environmental contamination in both routine and emergency situations. ALMERA was established by the IAEA in 1995 and is a world-wide cooperative effort of analytical laboratories designed to provide reliable and timely analysis of environmental samples for radioactivity.

The training course is part of the specific support provided to these laboratories by the IAEA, which includes proficiency tests, methodological developments and targeted training on relevant topics. It covered rapid radiochemical laboratory procedures validated by ALMERA laboratories and published by the IAEA; field detection and sampling in case of environmental contamination; quality aspects of sampling and analytical work; data evaluation and management; as well as specific applications of the RESRAD dose assessment codes.

The 22 students were successfully trained in all these topics, performing also practical exercises on the evaluation of complex gamma-ray spectra of environmental samples; getting updated on the sample chain of custody, laboratory quality assurance, data quality and management; and identifying critical response elements in accidental radioactive contamination of the environment. The programme also included a technical visit of selected facilities at the Argonne National Laboratory, where for over 50 years, scientists and engineers have been conducting research in advanced nuclear energy systems, non-proliferation and national security, and environmental management.

More information on the course can be found at