Radium at Needle's Eye, Scotland, UK
Samples of soil have been taken from five different locations in Needle’s Eye Scotland to establish the processes and conditions which govern the possible movement of radium through the natural environment at the site. The samples were analysed using gamma spectroscopy, powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD), loss on ignition, X-ray fluorescence (XRF), UV/visible spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and ICP MS - OES to determine the quantity of radium at different areas in the site and examine whether the levels were associated with any particular organic and inorganic phase.
Initial gamma spectroscopy measurements on samples taken from Needle’s Eye highlighted some key challenges with the determination of radium by inference by using the measurement of the uranium series progenies, bismuth and lead. Equilibrium between 226Ra and the two progenies (214Bi and 214Pb) was not reached, despite long collection times due to loss of radon gas from the experimental container. Various containers including plastic and aluminium cans sealed with different substances (wax, tape and plastic encapsulation) were then trialled to eliminate radon loss and hence accurately determine the radium content as evidenced by equilibrium being reached. [Continues.]