Savannah River lab qualified to provide safeguards reference materials to IAEA

May 3, 2023, 12:03PMNuclear News

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Department of Safeguards recently qualified Savannah River National Laboratory to produce microparticle reference materials that can be used to evaluate measurement quality in support of the Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL) and the IAEA’s verification mission. SRNL announced the development on April 25.

The NWAL is a group of laboratories in IAEA member states officially qualified to analyze nuclear material and environmental samples and provide reference materials for the agency’s Safeguards Analytical Laboratory. SRNL has previously provided services to NWAL and the IAEA, and the new qualification means it is now among a select group of NWAL members qualified to provide particle reference materials.

Material use: Particle reference materials are provided to laboratories performing particle analysis of environmental samples for the IAEA to ensure quality assurance, method development, and traceability of measurement results. Challenges in reliable production of particle reference materials have limited their availability and made their production a priority for the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards, according to SRNL.

The IAEA has a responsibility under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to verify that nuclear materials and activities in nonnuclear weapon states are not diverted to nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. As part of this mission, the IAEA’s Safeguards Analytical Laboratory and its partners analyze a variety of samples collected by IAEA inspectors.

The NWAL consists of 24 laboratories in 11 member countries, and it enhances and extends the IAEA’s capabilities in environmental sample analysis, nuclear material analysis, material characterization, heavy water analysis, and reference materials and quality control.

SNRL’s contribution: SRNL was qualified as a member of NWAL for nuclear material analysis in February 2016, specifically to provide thermal ionization mass spectrometry of plutonium. In 2022, SRNL gained qualifications for Davies-Gray uranium assay and isotope dilution mass spectrometry for uranium and plutonium.

SRNL’s latest qualification to provide microparticle reference materials is the result of more than six years of research and development and technology maturation sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Agency within the Office of International Nuclear Safeguards. Work with the IAEA was supported through the Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and performed in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

SRNL is managed and operated by Battelle Savannah River Alliance for the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management.

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