Continuous Real Time Water Monitoring for Radiation Safety Terrorist Attack, Improper Disposal of Industrial Waste, Accidental Discharge

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Courtesy of Technical Associates

Safe drinking water is essential to life on earth. Unfortunately, this vast infrastructure suffers from critical vulnerability. Keeping America safe with continuous real time water monitoring is a vital goal and is currently being addressed for biological and chemical risks. For monitoring of radionuclides in drinking water as recommended in the Safe Drinking Water Act 8, the Clean Water Act 9, National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets3, and other government documents, the problem has been a lack of technology. The need for this monitoring is outlined in several key documents; a list is appended to the end of this article. Since 9/11 the older process of taking water samples once a year, if that often, and sending them to a lab for an analysis that is a 2 week or 2 day turn around is no longer appropriate. Morally we know that continuous testing is the only way to protect our customers and these documents reflect this new way of thinking.

Instruments that do a variety of real time continuous monitoring of radionuclides are recent breakthroughs providing this needed technology. The most comprehensive instrument is in effect, a ‘chemist in a box’. A unit designed for continuous real time monitoring of large systems such as drinking water reservoirs. The second instrument is portable and designed to monitor in continuous real time for major events; terrorist attack or industrial accident. The third is a strap on pipe monitor designed to detect radiation as water flows through pipes, regardless of flow rate, in treatment facilities. Sensitivity and response time are tailored to user needs allowing for a highly specialized instrument.

These systems monitor alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Alarms and data records are an integral part of each system to alert the user and they are designed for a wide range of flowrates. These systems screen out background noise and can be set for the precise number of micro Curies per liter of user specifications. Tritium sensors are available as an option.

This technology is a vital component to public safety. Water in the United States is the cleanest in the world and continuous real time monitoring for radionuclides is the one area that has not had adequate attention. With this new technology the gap in our water safety net can now be closed and now will have the optimal level of monitoring and response, as does bacterial, chemical, and other toxic pollution of the nation’s drinking water. These monitors eliminate toxic disposal issues, lag time between sampling and testing, lab costs, field labor costs, and they solve the problem of continuous real time monitoring.

Technical Associates, experts in radiation detection since 1946, developed this line of products specifically for continuous real time water monitoring. Jefferson National Laboratory in Virginia is using the SSS-33-5FT Drinking Water Rad-Safety Monitor and likes its performance so well they have re-ordered. Fairfax Utility District at Washington DC has installed the latest version, the NexGen-SSS to protect the capitol.

Technical Associates has been awarded the Department of Energy grant Phase I and Phase2 to measure tritium in groundwater. Tritium is the most difficult of all radio active substances to detect as its beta emission is so weak. This line of water monitors is presented on the EPA Water and Wastewater Security Product Guide and in the EPA’s Methodology and Characteristics of Water System Infrastructure Security: Section 5.2-Candidate Instruments and Observables, Table 2-a, a paper submitted to the American Civil Engineers Society by the Department of Civil Engineering of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

No stranger to innovative technology for radiation detection, Technical Associates is honored to present this line of water monitors in support of safe drinking water for the United States.

The National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA), established in 1991, has had a tremendous impact in the assessment of key elements for managing water resources at both the state and federal government levels: 1) the current condition of U.S. streams and groundwater, 2) water quality changes over time, and 3) the effects of natural features and human activities on streams and groundwater. This invaluable information provided alerts to the unintended consequences of MTBE in gasoline, helped state agencies save money by identifying and targeting pollution source locations rather than addressing the entire water resource, etc. These efforts will be curtailed by potentially dramatic budget cuts over the coming years.

Water quality, water resources, and water distribution are key assets to be protected. Money is the component that makes this protection possible. Policy makers are employing creative thinking to sponsor innovative initiatives for appropriations to fund heightened and improved security measures.

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