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Laboratories, universities unite to build radioecology expertise
Date:1/26/2011

With the renewed and growing interest in nuclear energy, radioecology experts at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River National Laboratory recognized an immediate need to build the pool of radioecology expertise both here and abroad. To address this need, they worked with partners from universities across the U.S. and laboratories in France and the Ukraine to form the National Center for Radioecology (NCoRE), a network of excellence for environmental radiation risk reduction and remediation.

Radioecology is the science that investigates the movement and effect of radionuclides released to the environment. It combines expertise in physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, ecology, and radiation protection. "The growth in new nuclear energy capacity is going to require the ability to realistically assess the health and environmental impacts of nuclear facilities," said SRNL's Dr. Wendy Kuhne, one of the lead researchers for NCoRE. "With that knowledge, we can locate, design and operate the facilities in a way that meets our energy needs without increasing the risk to the population or the environment." Radioecology knowledge is also important for understanding, assessing and managing the impact of other potential sources of radionuclides, including contaminated sites managed by the Department of Energy (DOE), the military and others. In addition, it is an important contributor in preparing responses to acts of terrorism involving radioactive materials.

The increased need for radioecology, however, follows on the heels of many years' decline in educational opportunities in the field. There is currently no formal graduate program in radioecology in the United States since the retirement of Dr. Ward Whicker from Colorado State University (CSU), who is regarded as one of the founders of radioecology in the United States. Dr. Kuhne was Dr. Whicker's final PhD candidate to graduate from the program. One of the chief goals of NCoRE wi
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Contact: Angeline French
angeline.french@srnl.doe.gov
803-725-2854
DOE/Savannah River National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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