RSCS is proud to announce that our staff member, Michael Grimes, was awarded the Argonne National Laboratory Board of Governor’s James B. Porter, Jr. Team Award for Outstanding Safety Performance. This award is given annually to recognize a team of laboratory employees who promote and demonstrate the principles of integrated safety management. Michael’s team is recognized for contributing to the creation and sustenance of a positive safety culture and a commitment to excellence in workplace safety.
Our staff have been working for several years at the Argonne National Laboratory to support the Building 350 Legacy Project. Building 350 was commissioned in 1959 to fabricate plutonium fuels. At the time the building was dedicated, it was one of the worlds largest and most advanced facilities which produced fast-reactor fuel elements and fuel plates for fast reactor core configuration proof of concept designs, including the ZPR-6 and ZPR-9 assemblies. The laboratory was closed down in 1973, and was decommissioned between 1978-1983. The Building 350 Legacy Project is now focused on recycling thousands of Certified Reference Materials for use at other DOE facilities, and preparing the structure for reuse as a radiological facility.
We are glad to recognize Michael Grimes for this prestigious award. His performance reflects our core commitment to work place safety while conducting radiological consulting and project management services for our clients. Congratulations Michael!
RSCS has developed a Wide Application Robotics Platform – WARP – to support remote measurement applications. This platform is based upon a robot design manufactured by RADeCO, and offers several advantages for remote survey applications. Features include a small footprint of 20″x 17″x 17″, a carryload of 20 lbs, easily removed tires for contamination control, 4 hour runtime batteries that can be swapped out in the field, onboard lighting in all directions, front and rear cameras and an open air range of 200 meters plus for data transfer. WARP has the ability to carry a payload of detectors and access confined spaces with ease through remote wireless operation.
Initially, RSCS will deploy WARP configured with ISOCS detectors, low and high dose Radeye detectors, GPS modules for gamma walkovers, air sampling equipment and smear collection magazines. We envision expanding the capabilities of WARP by incorporating gamma spectroscopy detectors including CZT and mini HPGe, gamma cameras, Lidar survey equipment and thermal imaging technology.
RSCS has embraced cutting edge robotics technology for complex decommissioning work for decades. This new WARP system will expand our field technician’s ability to perform accurate surveys in high radiation areas efficiently and safely.
As many of you may know, the three owners of RSCS are all alumni of the University of Massachusetts – Lowell’s radiological health program. Their college mentors, Ken Skrable, George Chabot and Clay French, performed an exhaustive and compelling analysis of the potential cause (or lack-thereof) of global warming and prepared a scientific article that details their conclusions (links below).
Most people believe that global warming is due to increases of CO2 released to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels by humans (i.e. anthropogenic CO2). Here are a few things you may not know.
- ‘Most’ carbon in the environment contains a radioactive isotope of carbon (carbon-14) at low but measurable levels. This is formed by nuclear reactions in the upper atmosphere from radiation emitted by the sun at a very constant level over the eons. We use this fact to do carbon-dating of old bones and other old organic matter. The exception to this is fossil fuels, which has virtually no C-14 remaining because of its age and the 5,730 year half-life of C-14.
- NOAA has been conducting air sampling at 2 mountain-top locations since 1959 where they measure CO2 and C-14 in the atmosphere.
If burning fossil fuels were the culprit for increasing CO2 levels then we would see a predictable decrease of C-14 specific activity, as the lack of C-14 in fossil fuels would dilute the predictable C-14 in the atmosphere. As indicated in the Figure above, as the anthropogenic component increases, the specific activity of carbon-14 decreases in a very predictable way as a result of the dilution of the initial specific activity in 1750 by the anthropogenic fossil component. In 2020 (i.e. 270 y since 1750), the specific activity is 13.81 dpm/gC, and the anthropogenic fossil component is 51.07 ppm, which is 12.4% of the total carbon dioxide of 411.36 ppm (not shown in Figure). Thus, carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere in 2020 from the burning of fossil fuels does not dominate the total, and it cannot be the primary cause of global warming.
Attempts to present this analysis to NOAA with the hope of obtaining a review and constructive criticism of the approach and methodologies taken have not been successful. We believe the research conducted by Ken Skrable, George Chabot and Clay French provides an unbiased analysis that has scientific merit. While the conclusions provided may be contrary to what many believe, we are presenting this research as it may have significant implications on the issue of global warming, its world-wide cost, and global politics.
Three separate documents describing this issue in detail are available for review; a synopsis of the research, an essay “Anthropogenic-fossil and Non Fossil Components of Mauna Loa and Niwot Ridge Annual Mean Carbon Dioxide”, and the article “Anthropogenic Fossil Carbon Dioxide and Claims of Its Dominance and Role in Global Warming“.
This week, RSCS performed our first instrument calibrations using a newly acquired J.L. Shepherd Model 81 Cs-137 open beam calibrator. This dual source calibrator has an exposure rate range of 100 microR/h to 4 R/h, increasing the laboratory’s ability to provide open beam calibrations at higher exposure rates. By bringing the Model 81 calibrator on-line, we have significantly increased our laboratory’s throughput capacity which will have a positive impact on our turn times for gamma detection instrument calibrations.
The Model 81 calibrator is a fully automated system that is controlled remotely using a control panel to set the distance to the source along a rail assembly, apply attenuators and actuate the sources. In addition, exposures can be set using timers to remove operator error when calibrating integrated dose instruments. Finally, the Model 81 has several safety features that will automatically shield the sources, including an optical sensor that detects movement into the beam area, and a SCRAM button.
RSCS developed and implemented a detailed training program on the use of the Model 81 for our laboratory technicians and have added this calibrator to our ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Scope of Accreditation provided by ANAB. Providing accredited calibrations using the Model 81 demonstrates our on-going commitment to providing fast, cost effective and high quality instrument calibrations to our clients.
Over the past several weeks, RSCS has been providing essential services to our customers at medical facilities, nuclear power plants and government agencies. We are proud to be able to continue to support the nation’s critical infrastructure during this time of unparalleled disruption.
Anticipating the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the year, RSCS revised our Business Continuity Plans to address the unique risks that this novel virus posed to the safety of our employees and customers and to ensure we could provide essential services without interruption. As most of the States in the country enacted suspension of non-essential services, we were prepared with plans to protect our workforce to ensure the consistent delivery of services to our clients. As this situation has progressed, we have adopted the evolving guidance in our workplaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These plans and protocols have kept our workers healthy, and have allowed us to supply our services to the medical, energy and government sectors on time and with the same level of quality that our customers have come to expect from RSCS.
Patients requiring nuclear medicine procedures cannot wait for the COVID-19 outbreak to subside. Hospitals providing these services depend upon us for instrument calibration and repair services to ensure that their equipment used to survey hospital facilities are in tolerance. As more workers are telecommuting, and children have substituted remote learning for classroom education, the need for electrical power to support these operations is critical. Our project management services at operating nuclear plants have been delivered without interruption to ensure that the power grid is stable. Hazardous conditions at various nuclear sites and at government cleanup sites cannot be left unattended while we await the return to the new normal. These sites require that the efforts to safely remediate them stay on track. First responders and government agencies rely on us to maintain various instruments in the highest level of readiness for them to use. Our dedicated workers have stayed on the job, using best practices to stay healthy while performing this important work.
As the COVID-19 outbreak is contained and mitigated, we will continue to do our part to provide essential services at sites throughout the country and at our headquarters and laboratory in NH. We look forward to the day when our country is back open, but until then, we will do our part to help support our critical infrastructure.
In response to the COVID-19 viral outbreak, RSCS has updated our Business Continuity Plan, which includes requirements for responding to an outbreak of contagious disease. This plan details several measures to protect our workers, minimize business disruptions and respond to worsening conditions as they are identified by Local / Federal Government. Specifically, our plan details the following:
- Personal hygiene measures
- Enhanced cleaning / disinfecting of work areas
- Use of PPE for contamination control
- Increased on-hand inventory of consumables / parts
- Staff training on health & safety precautions, use of cloud-based file storage/sharing systems for remote work, implementation of response plans
- Social distancing, split shifts and remote work schedules
- Safe handling of incoming / outgoing packages
- Travel restrictions
- Quarantine measures and temporary office closures if ordered by Local / Federal Government or if in-company outbreak detected
- Notification to customers / vendors
RSCS plans to minimize the impact of this emerging COVID-19 outbreak through the following measures:
- Defense in depth – Staff in the Business Services Group and Calibration Laboratory are cross trained, health physicists and engineering staff working on projects have a similar knowledge base, pool of available radiological technicians typically exceeds staffing needs, staff substitutions are available in the case of illness.
- Escalating levels of response based on changing conditions
Initial response plan calls for social isolating as much as possible through use of remote work for corporate and projects staff and split shifts for Calibration Laboratory to allow for increased distancing of staff during the work-day.
If conditions worsen, or in-house staff contract the illness, then the next level of response includes isolation of ill staff and quarantine and monitoring of staff who had close contact with ill staff. As the majority of our staff can work remotely, quarantines should have minimal impact on the delivery of services to clients. Calibration Laboratory staff can substitute for each other minimizing the impact of absenteeism on instrument calibration turn times. Staff who work at client sites have substitutes available from our bench of health physicists, engineers and radiological technicians to ensure schedules can be maintained.
If mandatory quarantines, travel bans or other Local / Federal Government orders are imposed, then RSCS will comply as required and will resume projects and calibrations once orders are lifted. While we have no control over this contingency, we commit to supporting our customers through work that can be accomplished remotely as much as possible.
We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update information on our webpage on our response plans if they should change in the future.
Matt Darois and Peter McNeil of our Environmental Engineering Group will be attending the Annual EPRI Buried Pipe Integrity Group (BPIG) and the Cathodic Protection Users Group (CPUG) Meeting in Kissimmee, Florida. These two groups collaborate with each other every year to support operating nuclear power plants with buried asset health and mitigation strategies.
Matt Darois will be presenting on “Using Surface Geophysical NDE and 3D Data Processing to Evaluate Pipe Backfill Characteristics”. This presentation details the use of Wenner 4-Pin Soil Resistivity measurements along with ground penetrating radar data to assess the backfill characteristics and corrosion rates for buried pipes. The benefits of using of modeling software to combine and illustrate these data sets will also be discussed.
If attending BPIG/CPUG, please come by our booth to say hello, and stop in to hear Matt’s presentation on this innovative assessment methodology.
RSCS is exhibiting at the 2020 Midyear Health Physics Society Meeting in Bethesda Maryland. Come by booth #101 to say hello, learn about our consulting and project management services, and see a demonstration of our Sim-TEQ training simulators. We look forward to seeing you there!
RSCS is pleased to announce that Ellen Anderson has joined our team as Director of Radiological Services and will support strategic planning initiatives and business development for our Project Services divisions serving the nuclear power industry.
Ellen has spent the past decade as Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) Director of Radiation Safety and International Liaison where she provided regulatory and applied health physics/radiation protection expertise in the areas of occupational and public radiation safety to member utilities, industry organizations, including EPRI, INPO, ANI, and international radiological protection organizations. At NEI, Ellen led their Radiation Safety Task Force, and participated on the former Delivering the Nuclear Promise RP team.
Ellen has dedicated nearly 4 decades to the nuclear power industry in the areas of radiation protection, emergency preparedness, regulatory affairs, nuclear oversight and security. Prior to NEI, she held numerous industry positions, including Radiation Protection Manager at the Quad Cities Generating Station, Fleet Radiation Protection Manager for First Energy Nuclear Operating Company, interim Radiation Protection Manager at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant, Regulatory Affairs Manager at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Quality Assurance Manager for PSEG and Emergency Preparedness Manager for the Palisades and Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plants.
Internationally, Ellen is recognized for her radiation protection expertise as a member of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) Radiation Protection Working Group in London, and through her participation on several Nuclear Energy Agency/ISOE Working Groups including chair of the Expert Group on Severe Accident Management. She has also participated on several International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) radiation protection consultancies.
We are proud to have Ellen join our team and look forward to her contributions toward the growth of our company as we continue to expand our presence in the nuclear power industry worldwide.
RSCS will attend the JPEO-CBRND Consortium General Membership Meeting (GMM) & Joint JPEO-CBRND/DHS CWMD Industry Day in Bethesda MD this week on November 12. This event brings together consortium members and Government to discuss upcoming opportunities and to interact and exchange information regarding upcoming prototyping requirements for the CWMD Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). Please visit us if attending to learn more about our Sim-TEQ Training Simulator Line currently deployed at several naval and commercial nuclear facilities.