Radionuclide Reaction and Fate Group

The group is lead by">Prof. Gareth Law and Dr William Bower is the group's Senior Researcher. We moved to the University of Helsinki Radiochemistry Unit in late 2018. We are a multidisciplinary group with diverse radiochemistry research interests. These include environmental issues to do with NORM (Naturally Occuring 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), Clemson University (USA), the Singapore National Radiation Safety Initative, 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 William.

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. Gareth started his Professorship at the University of Helsinki in late 2018. More information here.

Dr William Bower: William is the Senior Researcher in the Group and works across a range of nuclear industry related projects. He specialises in spatially resolved X-ray spectroscopies and radionuclide biogeochemistry. More information here.

Connaugh Fallon: Connaugh is currently studying for a PhD looking at the application of Nano-SIMS for characterisation of radioactive particles. 

Mallory Ho: Mallory is studying for a PhD in radiochemistry and is sponsered by SNRSI. Her project looks at the geochemistry and environmental management of Se, Tc, and Np at nuclear sites. More information here.

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

Katie Doig: Katie is studying for a PhD in nuclear waste managment and material decontamination. 

We also have affiliate group members at the University of Manchester:  Alana McNulty, Anna Denman, and Dan Barton.

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:

Masters-Waage et al., (2017). Impacts of Repeated Redox Cycling on Technetium Mobility in the Environment. Environmental Science and Technology. 51 (24). pp. 14301-14310. Available here

Ochiai, A. et al., (2018). Uranium dioxides and debris fragments released to the environment with cesium-rich microparticles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Environmental Science and Technology. 52 (5). pp. 2586–2594. Available here.

Al-Qasmi, H. et al., (2018). Deposition of artificial radionuclides in sediments of Loch Etive, Scotland. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 187. pp. 45-52. 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:

Ikehara, R. et al., (2018). Novel Method of Quantifying Radioactive Cesium-Rich Microparticles (CsMPs) in the Environment from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Environmental Science and Technology. 52, (11). pp. 6390-6398. Available here

Imoto, S. et al., (2017). Isotopic signature and nano-texture of cesium-rich micro-particles: Release of uranium and fission products from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Scientific Reports. 7. Article number 5409. Available here

Al-Qasmi, H. et al., (2016). Origin of artificial radionuclides in soil and sediment from North Wales. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 151 (1). pp. 254-259. Available here