Radiochemical dating chemistry
‘Some radionucleotides might become bioavailable, there is always the suspicion that there are leakages and a flow into the groundwater or evaporation into the air,’ Voigt explained.
‘We don’t know, and so we need experts.’ She tells that there is currently ‘just a handful of sound radiochemists’ in Germany, and most of them are already well-established in their institutes, which do everything they can to retain them.
Fauth says the lack of interest in radiochemistry in the US stems from fewer test reactor facilities, the difficulty in maintaining a radiochemistry training facility, anti-nuclear activists and insufficient support from the US Department of Energy, whose facilities provided many in the country’s radiochemical community with on-the-job training.
In the meantime, the pipeline for radiochemists has virtually dried up.
The situation in the US is not much better, according to David Fauth, a consultant in the field who is a member of a US committee that has worked on environmental radiochemistry laboratory standards.
‘Here in Australia, what is important for us is uranium mining – understanding all of the implications of that, like radiation in the environment – as well as using radiation techniques for understanding the environment and climate change,’ Popelka-Filcoff explains.
Chernobyl and Fukushima both underline the importance of being prepared for a radiation-related emergency, the radiochemists gathered at the RACI meeting stressed.