Laboratory of Spectrometry and Radiochemistry

The Laboratory of Spectrometry and Radiochemistry received its first accreditation certificate (registration number: BY/112 in 2002. In January 2016, the accreditation status in accordance with the requirements of STB ISO/IEC 17025: 2007 was extended until January 28, 2021.

Scope of accreditation of the laboratory of spectrometry and radiochemistry of the Polesie State Radiation and Environmental Reserve:
    • sampling of soil and non-food forestry products;
    • dose rate measurement;
    • surface β-contamination measurement;
    • definition:
      • specific (volumetric) activity of cesium-137 in environmental objects, agricultural raw materials, feed, water, food, non-food products of forestry;
      • strontium-90 content in food products, agricultural raw materials, feed, soil, bottom sediments, surface waters, samples of flora and fauna of the Polesie State Radiation-Ecological Reserve;
      • content of americium-241 in soil, bottom sediments;
      • content of plutonium-238 and plutonium-239, 240 in soil, bottom sediments, surface waters, samples of flora and fauna of the Polesie State Radiation and Ecological Reserve. 

The laboratory has two gamma-beta spectrometers MKS-AT1315 for the instrumental determination of cesium-137 and strontium-90 in samples, an alpha/beta low-background setup with a gas proportional counter, capable of simultaneously determining the content of alpha and beta emitting nuclides in 8 Samples, a Canberra gamma spectrometer with a high-purity germanium detector is used to measure 241 Am in environmental samples without preliminary sample preparation. For radiochemical analyzes, an Ethos microwave preparation system, an Alpha Analyst alpha spectrometer (Canberra), a Solaar S2 atomic absorption spectrometer, and a TRI CARB 2910 TR liquid scintillation analyzer are also used.

One of the main tasks facing the laboratory of spectrometry and radiochemistry is to provide the scientific departments of the reserve with the results of analysis of the samples of environmental objects provided by them for the content of various radionuclides. In 2019, the laboratory staff analyzed more than 7800 samples for the content of cesium-137, strontium-90 and americium-241 by the instrumental method and carried out the radiochemical determination of strontium-90 and plutonium-238, 239+240 in 88 samples.

The equipment used by the laboratory is shown in the photographs:

Economic activity of the laboratory:
    • control of the content of 137 Cs in sawn timber produced at the sawmills of the Polesie State Radiation-Ecological Reserve in the settlements of Khoiniki, Komarin, Narovlya;
    • refinement of the map of radioactive contamination of the reserve territory 137 Cs, 90Sr, 241Am, 238Pu, 239+240Pu;
    • survey of forest stands in order to determine the possibility of using wood for economic purposes. For the period from 2003 to 2019. 2227 allotments with a total area of about 10100 ha were surveyed. 

The following photographs show the individual stages of the radiation survey of cutting areas.


Participation in international projects
Project "MOBELRAD"

The Fukushima and Chernobyl accidents highlight the relevance of mobile systems that have a number of advantages in controlling the radioactive contamination of the area. For personnel training and testing of such equipment, special conditions and route are required. From this point of view, the territory of the Belarusian part of the ChNPP exclusion zone is a suitable testing ground. In September 2014, on the territory of the Polesie State Radiation and Environmental Reserve, with the participation of laboratory staff, mobile exercises were held, the purpose of which was to determine the levels of radioactive contamination of the 137Cs area and the equivalent dose rate of gamma radiation during movement of a vehicle equipped with dosimetric and spectrometric equipment. Teams from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden took part in the tests, armed with a variety of equipment - from small devices with LaBr-based detectors to large-sized NaI crystals. The exercise demonstrated the feasibility of using equipment for assessing contamination in the event of a radiation accident in a third country. The progress report is available on the website:


Project "Analysis of Environmental Risk in the Exclusion Zone on the Belarusian-Ukrainian Border"

As part of this project, the laboratory staff, together with employees of other departments of the reserve, performed the following work on the Belarusian-Ukrainian section of the state border passing through the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 155 km long:

    • measuring the dose rate of gamma radiation over the entire length of the surveyed area of the terrain (880 measurements);
    • sampling of soil (160 samples) and determination of the density of contamination with 137Сs and 241Am of the surveyed area.


Project "Application of modern field gamma spectrometry to study areas contaminated with Chernobyl fallout (Advanced In-situ Gamma Spectrometry Field Activity - Chernobyl)"

In September 2015, another international project (GamFac) was held on the territory of the Polesie State Radiation and Environmental Reserve, which made it possible to test equipment, techniques and personnel when conducting field ( in situ ) measurements in areas with a high degree of radioactive contamination. Five teams from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Scotland for several days using a wide variety of equipment determined the density of radioactive contamination at 5 sites, differing in the level of contamination, the vertical profile of the distribution of radionuclides, the type of soil, the features of its microrelief, the nature of moisture, the degree of processing soil and other parameters. The availability of detailed information provided by the laboratory on the distribution of radionuclides by depth made it possible to test various measurement techniques, calculation models and radiation detectors used. The progress report is available on the website:


In 2016, in continuation of the previous project, the project М18-15/17 (Gamfak-2) "The use of modern field gamma-spectrometry (in situ) for the study of territories contaminated with Chernobyl radionuclides"

It was attended by representatives of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Agency and a group of scientists from the Scottish University of Stirling. In 2016, special attention was paid to the site subject to periodic flooding during the flood period. The depth distribution of 137 Cs was calculated instrumentally from the ratio between the total absorption peak 137 Cs and the number of scattered photons recorded. In this case, the results of in situ measurements and mathematical data processing by the Monte Carlo method were used.

[A.Varley, A.Tyler, M.Dowdall, Y.Bondar, V.Zabrotski. An in situ method for the high resolution mapping of 137Cs and estimation of vertical depth penetration in a highly contaminated environment. // Science of the Total Environment. 605–606 (2017) 957–966]


In 2017-2018 the laboratory carried out the project "Monitoring of forest stands by in-situ gamma spectrometry using the Monte Carlo method"

The project was concluded on November 30, 2017 with the Norwegian Radiation Protection Agency. Within the framework of this project, together with Norwegian and Scottish scientists, an attempt was made to apply the method of field gamma spectrometry with subsequent processing of the results of direct measurements by the Monte Carlo method to determine the 137Cs content in living (standing) trees. If positive results were obtained, the prospect of simplifying the process of radiation examination of cutting areas would open up - without the need to take wood samples and their subsequent analysis.

Head of the Laboratory of Spectrometry and Radiochemistry

Ph.D. Vyacheslav Nikolaevich Zabrodsky