The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Radiochemistry Laboratory is one of three chemistry sections of the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories. The laboratory is certified by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to perform radio-analytical testing of public drinking water samples as mandated by the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) and in accordance with provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The laboratory also analyzes ambient water  including stream, lake, and river samples, as well as samples that relate to issuance of radioactive material licenses.

The laboratory provides radioanalytical support for KDHE's monitoring of Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Generating Station, and is a member of a working group organized by the Department of Homeland Security to develop a performance testing program. The laboratory also participates in the Environmental Radiation Ambient Monitoring System (ERAMS) and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN).

The radiochemistry laboratory employs instrumentation and methodology that adheres to the current acceptable standards for the types of analyses performed and agencies served. Low background alpha/beta counters, gamma spectrometers, gas proportional counters, and liquid scintillation counters are routinely utilized. Appropriate quality control measures and statistical assurances have been adopted and are specific to instrumentation and methods employed. As the laboratory continues to expand, attention will be focused upon the development of rapid radiochemical methods for analyzing environmental emergency and radio-bioassay samples.

  1. Nuclear Power
  2. Radiation Monitoring
  3. Food Emergency Response

Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Generating Station

Environmental samples are collected within 90 miles of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant site. These samples include, but are not limited to, surface water, groundwater, sediment/soil, vegetation, food (e.g. milk), fish, and biota. While this routine and frequent measurement of radionuclide activity is primarily at environmental background levels and serves to establish baseline data, it would quickly detect any unplanned release from the power plant. Capabilities exist to detect low-level activities of actinides, fission products, and naturally occurring radionuclides.

In the event of a nuclear accident at Wolf Creek, the radiochemistry laboratory would be called upon to analyze samples which would determine the extent of resulting contamination. To test the laboratory's capability to properly receive, prepare, and analyze nuclear emergency samples, the laboratory participates periodically in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) graded exercises. Other aspects which are evaluated are the ability to adequately staff the laboratory and to provide analytical results within a timely fashion. The radiochemistry laboratory devoted a significant amount of time and effort to establish this capability within the last ten years. Renovation seven years ago created a nuclear emergency sample receiving area, an emergency sample preparation laboratory, and an emergency sample counting room. Successful participation in past FEMA nuclear emergency exercises has proven this to be a satisfactory design.