A remotely operated, field deployable tritium analysis system for surface and groundwater measurement Page: 8 of 11
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laboratory where the remote computer was stationed. Remote communications were established between
the laboratory and the field site using a telephone line and the modem. Using the remote computer, the
tritium analyzer was instructed to take an aqueous sample, acquire and analyze the spectrum, evaluate
background, empty and cleanse the sample vial in preparation for the next sample cycle. A background
of 1.469 cpm and a counting efficiency of 23.9% were demonstrated in the field, which results in a low
MDA for a 50-minute count (-10.1 Bq/L). For this test, the aqueous samples collected were introduced
directly into the tritium analyzer after manually purifying the sample through an EIChroM resin
column. An aliquot of the aqueous sample was returned to the laboratory for confirmatory analysis
using a Quantulus 1220 LS counter. Table 1 presents a comparison of the results from the field tests and
the laboratory measurements which demonstrates good agreement. (Note: the laboratory sample was
approximately twice the volume of the field sample/resulting in a lower MDA for the 50-minute count).
A second field test was performed at the SRS in June 1996 where TCE was being removed from
groundwater by air stripping. A background of 1.5 cpm and a counting efficiency of 27% was observed
during these tests. As before, the water samples were treated manually with the EIChroM resin columns
before analysis. Parallel samples were returned to the laboratory for confirmatory analyses. Table 1
shows that the field analyses during these experiments are also in, good agreement with the laboratory
analyses with no detectable bias.
A remotely operated system has been developed to collect a limited-volume sample and perform
on-line sample purification for tritium analyses from multiple collection sites. A one-step purification
system was developed to remove all impurities which interfere with the tritium analysis by liquid
scintillation counting. Limited field testing has confirmed the operation of the system. Additional field
testing of the entire system, including sample delivery and purification is scheduled for early 1997.
The development of a prototype system for the field analysis of tritium in ground and surface
waters has been accomplished at the Savannah River Site. All requirements for a remotely operated,
multi-port, 2-man portable, field deployable tritium analysis system have been met which measures
tritium at environmental levels in near real-time. Using automated water purification and liquid
scintillation counting techniques, the FDTAS has been shown to detect tritium at -10 Bq/L
concentrations within 2 hours of sampling (100 minute count) with minimum associated derived wastes.
Detection limits at 25 Bq/L levels can be met with a 10 minute count. These limits are well below the
EPA drinking water standard for tritium at 740 Bq/L (6) and lower than the normal upstream Savannah
River tritium concentration of -40 Bq/L (7).
The use of the FDTAS for selective, on-demand, rapid analysis of ground and surface water
samples eliminates the need for costly routine sample gathering and lengthy laboratory analyses that are
presently used for monitoring wells, rivers, streams and seeps. The mobility of the field units and
possible multiple units controlled by a central processor suggests the FDTAS can be used for many
applications. The SRS prototype will be extensively tested under a variety of field conditions and field-
hardened for optimum performance. Commercialization of the technology is presently under
1. Murphy, C. W., Jr., Hayes, D. W., Marter, W. L., Ziegler, C. C., Stephenson, D. E., Hoel, D. D.,
and Hamby, D. M.; Tritium in the Savannah River Site Environment, WSRC-RP-90-424 Rev. 1,
Westinghouse Savannah River Company, May 1991.
2. Hofstetter, K. J. and Wilson, H. T., Fusion Technology 1992 21, (2), 446-451 .
3. Hofstetter, K. J., Fusion Technology 1995 2, (3), 1527- 1531.
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Cable, P.R.; Hofstetter, K.J.; Beals, D.M.; Jones, J.D.; Collins, S.L.; Noakes, J.E. et al. A remotely operated, field deployable tritium analysis system for surface and groundwater measurement, report, December 31, 1996; Aiken, South Carolina. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc676402/m1/8/: accessed May 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.