Radionuclide Reaction and Fate Group

The group is lead by Prof. Gareth Law

The Group is led by Prof. Gareth Law and Dr Gianni Vettese is the group's Senior Researcher. The group moved to the University of Helsinki Radiochemistry Unit in late 2018 from the University of Manchester, UK. We are a multidisciplinary group with diverse radiochemistry research interests. These include environmental issues associated with NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) and NORM wastes, nuclear site management (in particular, contaminated land management), nuclear accident response, and environmental radiochemistry. We also have interests in nuclear waste disposal (in particular for low, intermediate, and operating wastes), nuclear decommissioning, nuclear forensics, and technique development. We have strong reseach links with the University of Manchester (UK), the Singapore National Radiation Safety Initiative, Leibniz Universität Hannover (Germany), the UK National Nuclear Laboratory, the Diamond Light Source, and Kyushu University (Japan). We also participate in a range of radiochemistry teaching activities and firmly believe that research led teaching is key to training the next generation of radiochemists. If you are interested in radiochemistry study or you would like to work in the group please either contact either Gareth or Gianni

Please scroll down for further information about our research interests and the people working in the group.

Group Members

Prof. Gareth Law: Gareth is the "Radionuclide Reaction and Fate" group leader and Head of the University of Helsinki Radiochemistry Unit. He is also a Vice Dean of the University of Helsinki Faculty of Science, Finland's representative to the EuChemS DNRC, Finland's research entity mandated actor to EURATOM, and a member of the Board of Directors for ENEN. Gareth started his Professorship at the University of Helsinki in late 2018. More information here.

Dr Gianni Vettese: Gianni is the Senior Researcher in the Group and has worked across a range of nuclear industry and NORM related projects. His latest work is with RadoNorm. He specialises in X-ray spectroscopies and radionuclide biogeochemistry. 

Dr Soroush Majlesi: Soroush's post–doc project examines the trophic transfer of C-14 in the environment after its release from the nuclear industry. His post-doc is sponsored by SAFER2028

Dr Susanna Salminen-Paatero: Susanna works on the ENEN2+ project and on a decommissioning related project funded by SAFER2028

Joyce Ang: Joyce is studying for a PhD in nuclear forensics and nuclear accident response. Her PhD is sponsored by SNRSI. 

Alvin Khng: Alvin is studying for PhD in radiochemistry and is sponsored by SNRSI. His project exams the uptake and reaction of uranium dioxide particles and CsMPs in lung systems. 

Taavi Vierinen: Taavi is studying for a PhD in radiochemistry. His projects examines C-14 behaviour in LILW disposal systems. His PhD is sponsored by SAFER2028

Anna Psyrillou: Anna is a IAEA Marie Skłodowska Curie fellow study radioactive "hot" particle uptake.

Saija Kettunen: Saija is currently working at the Finnish Radiation Safety Authority (STUK) on an analytical radiochemistry project that seeks to improve separation and analysis of Sr89 and Sr90. 


Decommissioning, Decontamination, and Technique Development

During nuclear decommissioning, radionuclide contaminated materials need to be accurately identified and sentenced for disposal as radioactive waste. The disposal of voluminous materials (e.g. structural steel, pipework etc.) as radioactive waste can prove costly.  Alternatively, materials can be decontaminated and removed from radioactive waste sentencing. Decommissioning and development of efficient, cost effective decontamination technologies relies on a thorough understanding of how, and to what extent, materials become contaminated with radionuclides. Using lab-based reaction rigs, we can replicate contamination conditions from the nuclear industry in our laboratories, and through use of our state-of-the-art analytical techniques, better understand how materials become contaminated. Our group and our collaborators also have interests in the use and development of stand-off, real-time analysis techniques that allow identification of contaminants on materials. Example work:

Nedyalkova, I. et al., (2018). The impact of ultra high pressure water jetting on the near surface microstructure of type 304L stainless steel. Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Water Jetting 2018, pp. 243-256. Available here

Lang, A. et al., (2018). Analysis of contaminated nuclear plant steel by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 345. pp. 114-122. Available here

Bower, W.R. et al., (2016). Characterising legacy spent nuclear fuel pond materials using microfocus X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 317. pp. 97-107. Available here.

Environmental Radioactivity, NORM, Contaminated land, Waste

Naturally occurring radioactive materials can contaminate mining sites and be problematic in industry (e.g. NORM wastes arise from steel manufacturing and the oil and gas industry). Further, nuclear sites and their surrounding environments can become contaminated with fission products and actinides through the authorised disposal of radioactive wastes, accidents, and spillages. The environment has also been contaminated with radionuclides due to weapons use and there is potential for contamination to occur in the future due to radioactive waste geological disposal. For these reasons it is imperative that we better understand radionuclide behaviour in the environment and in waste forms. Reflecting this, the group have a long history of working at NORM (e.g. Needle’s Eye and the South Terras Mine, UK) and nuclear industry contaminated sites (e.g. Sellafield Ltd., and Ravenglass Estuary, UK; Fukushima Diiachi, Japan), and on radioactive waste issues. In our work we couple standard laboratory and radiometric techniques with the use of state-of-the-art chemical and isotopic imaging technologies. This allows us to gain a molecular level understanding of radionuclide behaviour in complex matrices. Example work:

Herzig, M. et al., (2024). Altering environmental conditions induce shifts in simulated deep terrestrial subsurface bacterial communities—Secretion of primary and secondary metabolites. Environmental Microbiology. 26 (1). e16552. Available here

Kasko, J. et al., (2023). Uranium(VI) interactions with Pseudomonassp. PS-0-L, V4-5-SB and T5-6-I. Applied Geochemistry. 159 (5). 105829. Available here.

Ho, M. et al., (2022). Retention of immobile Se(0) in flow-through aquifer column systems during bioreduction and oxic-remobilization. Science of the Total Environment. 834, 155332. Available here

Accidents and Forensics

Assessing the impact of nuclear accidents (e.g. Chernobyl, Fukushima Diiachi) and evidence collection after the illicit use of nuclear materials, requires use and development of fast sample screening techniques and radiometric / elemental analysis. Further, if possible, it is important to collect spatially resolved isotopic, elemental, and speciation information from samples.  Our group has a wealth of experience in radiometric and elemental analysis. Further, through collaboration (Kyushu University; Diamond Light Source; Leibniz Universität Hannover; University of Manchester; Swiss Light Source) we are fostering growing interests in the use of SIMS techniques (TOF- and Nano-SIMS) and highly-focussed synchrotron based X-ray spectroscopies for applications in nuclear accident impact assessments and for nuclear forensics. Example work:

Ang, J. et al., (2024). Detecting radioactive particles in complex environmental samples using real-time autoradiography. Scientific Reports. 14,5413. Available here

Miyazaki, K. et al., (2024). “Invisible” radioactive cesium atoms revealed: Pollucite inclusion in cesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs) from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 470, 134104. Available here

Fueda, K. et al., (2022). Volatilization of B4C control rods in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors during meltdown: B–Li isotopic signatures in cesium-rich microparticles. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 428, 128214. Available here