Autoscribe Informatics

Matrix Gemini LIMS at work in the Nuclear Industry

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Courtesy of Autoscribe Informatics

Bradwell nuclear power station is located on the Dengie peninsula at the mouth of the River Blackwater in Essex. Construction of Bradwell power station began in December 1957 and electricity generation started in 1962. It had two Magnox reactors producing 242 Megawatts of electricity. It could supply enough electricity to meet the combined needs of three towns the size of Chelmsford, Colchester and Southend.

Bradwell was the first nuclear power station to be closed on a planned basis in 2002 after over 40 years of operation. This marked the beginning of the decommissioning stage which will last for several decades and close monitoring of the environment around the power station has to be made for many years to come. This is to ensure continued public safety and to provide public reassurance.

Bradwell is one of many licensed nuclear sites in England and Wales that are regularly inspected by the Health and Safety Executive who are in charge of regulating all aspects of nuclear safety on those sites. The Radioactive Substances Act 1993 governs aspects of the use and subsequent disposal of radioactive materials. The Environment Agency (EA) oversees how the sites dispose of their radioactive waste by granting site authorisations to the operators who run them. These authorisations set out limits and conditions on the amount and way they dispose of their waste and cover all radioactive waste disposals including discharges to air and water, and transfers of wastes for incineration or disposal to land. The Environment Agency requires the Nuclear Site Operator to carry out terrestrial and marine environmental monitoring programmes to ensure that they are not exceeding their limits and to ensure that they release as little radioactive waste as possible into the environment.

The monitoring program is stringent and amongst a variety of regulatory requirements, calls for routine and accurate testing and measurement, the maintenance and security of both current and historic data, statistical and trend reports and the submission of quarterly and annual reports to the EA.

Autoscribe's Matrix LIMS Rutherford configuration, specifically designed for the nuclear industry, was installed at Bradwell in 2004 to facilitate meeting the EA's requirements and to simplify laboratory operations and reporting requirements,

The Matrix Rutherford LIMS system features workflows for Environmental District Surveys, Liquid Discharge, Gaseous Discharge and Chemistry. Furthermore the system is suitable for many variations of work and sample / hazardous waste tracking. Matrix Rutherford has been designed as a fully configurable, out of the box LIMS solution in co-operation with several companies working in the nuclear and related industries.  Furthermore, Matrix Rutherford is designed for change to allow it to keep pace with changing business requirements.

Secure access to the system is controlled by a comprehensive security system utilising a class based structure relating to job function and/or authority.

Using a configurable, commercial designed LIMS offered the fit of a custom solution without the problems and costs of on-going support, documentation and upgrades associated with bespoke systems.

The Matrix LIMS configuration tools enable:

  • Unlimited choice of workflows and menu designs
  • Optimized screens for every function (e.g. Registration screens optimized for each sample category)
  • Customer specific tables and modules
  • Unlimited number of logical numbering systems
  • Complete translation to your terminology / language
  • Unlimited group, role and user access levels
  • Your choice of host database, SQL Server or Oracle
  • The system to be scaled from a single user workstation to a single department within a site up to an Enterprise wide implementation at multiple sites.

The sample login / registration function was setup to allow the entry of sample details manually or via a scheduler that performs this task automatically. Routine statutory, non-routine, historic and/or ad hoc samples may be registered. For district survey work an area description, grid reference, station, sampler i.d. and the date scheduled and date sampled can all be entered.

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