Accelerator Radiation Safety Newsletter


(all articles are to be considered personal/professional in nature and do not reflect the opinions of the institutions described unless otherwise stated)


An Official Publication of the

Health Physics Society's Accelerator Section

Circulation: 493

Fourth Quarter 2015 /
Volume 25, Number 4




The President’s Message

Elaine Marshall


This time of year is busy for lots of reasons – holiday season, year-end close, and planning for the upcoming annual HPS meeting in Spokane, Washington.


The Accelerator Section Board chose not to host a special session at the mid-year meeting in Austin, Texas.  Our rationale was based primarily on the travel restrictions many of us face – one conference per year.  By focusing our energy on the annual meeting, we are expecting a strong session with lots of participation.  I have asked the Program Committee to let us do most of the planning and they have agreed.  Our Section is known for its willingness to share knowledge and this gives me cause to believe that this special session will be one of the best we have ever hosted.  Are there any volunteers to help coordinate the program?  I will also take any ideas that you all may have regarding speakers and topics.  As the Accelerator Safety Workshop this past September demonstrated, there is so much going on in our discipline and much for us to learn.


Proposals were made to offer accelerator related PEPs and CELs at the annual meeting.  However, volunteers are still being solicited.  If you know of a topic or better, anyone that would be willing to offer a PEP or CEL, let me know as soon as possible.  I will make sure that information gets forwarded appropriately.  Remember also, there is a small stipend for those willing to invest the time and effort.  I also encourage our Section members to sign-up for these PEPs.  Enrollment is a significant factor in planning for future PEPs and CELs.


At the annual meeting, the Accelerator Section plans to award its two student awards honoring Lutz Moritz and H. Wade Patterson. Many of you can recall the high quality of the work demonstrated by past award winners and are able to observe these young professionals in the workplace today.  We will be in need of volunteers to judge the submissions.  Let me know if you are interested.


Significant progress has been made on the accelerator standard for clearance of radioactive materials at DOE facilities.  The hope is that this document will be finalized and issued early 2016.  This should allow for some great discussion at both the mid-year and the annual meetings.  Know that for my employer, this document will be a sound basis for reviewing and revising our clearance procedures not only for our accelerators, but for the entirety of the site.  I pray that it is as useful to our colleagues subject to 10CFR20 and those subject to international regulation. 


Know that this will be somewhat belated, but Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  See you all sometime in 2016.

The President-Elect’s Message

Lorraine Day


University of Maryland has made a discovery that could enable the realization of portable particle accelerators.  As you know, conventional particle accelerators have huge footprints and even bigger price tags.  Even those of more modest proportions like those employed for medical imaging and cancer therapy need huge rooms, power supplies and massive radiation shielding.


What the researchers at UMD have found could lead to the construction of inexpensive but very useful particle accelerators.  What is especially fascinating is that this discovery has the potential to produce portable particle accelerators in the very near future.  Using record- low laser energies, electron beams have been accelerated to close to the speed of light.  This research relieves the financial, shielding and footprint barriers that have limited the spread of accelerators to just a few National Laboratories and even fewer University facilities.  More information and the original report appeared in the November 2015 Journal Physical Review Letters.

The Past President’s Message

Steve Frey


Hello friends, there is good budget news for accelerators at last. In the recent federal omnibus budget signed into law last month, overall funding for both particle physics and photon physics in the Department of Energy (DOE) world has gone up. Although the increases are rather modest, our field of science and its supporting health physics needs should benefit. From the American Institute of Physics, December 17, 2015, here are the key DOE particulars for our interests for Fiscal Year 2016:

Office / Division

FY14 enacted

FY15 enacted

FY16 President's request

FY16 enacted

Change between FY15 and FY16

Office of Science






Basic Energy Sciences






High Energy Physics






Nuclear Physics






As can be seen above, funding for the Office of Science (+5.6%), Basic Energy Sciences (+6.7%), High Energy Physics, and the Nuclear Physics (+3.6%) programs is being increased over 2015. What a great way to head into 2016!


Also, things continue to be afoot in the accelerator world…


For example, hormesis is gaining serious attention in the regulatory realm. This past June, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission began collecting comments on whether to revise radiation safety standards to take hormesis into account, at least to some degree. Who would have thought we’d ever see such a development! The outcome if this initiative eventually could have a substantial impact on radiation safety programs everywhere, including at accelerators. More information to follow will be shared here as this initiative plays out.


And as usual, our accelerator realm waits for nothing (not even hormesis) in its insatiable drive to unfold the universe from the very small to the very large. To wit:


- Supersymmetric Particle Sighting? CERN is reporting discovery of an unexpected overabundance of photon pairs having a whopping energy of 750 GeV in its most recent data run. These findings, which suggest that an unknown particle heavier than the Higgs Boson may be causing the overabundance, are preliminary. More research will be conducted soon to try to pin down their source. Who would not want to be involved in such a study?? (see link at Science breakthrough? Physicists may have discovered Higgs boson relative,, 12/16/2016)


- Sub Rosa Neutrinos: The MicroBooNE facility at Fermi National Laboratory is going operational. This underground system will be used to study neutrino oscillations to a greater degree than ever before when it is mated with the larger Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) facility when the latter comes on line (see “MicroBooNE sees first accelerator-born neutrinos” in Symmetry, 11/2/2015).


-  Nobel Prize in Physics goes to neutrino oscillation discoverers: Up until the early 2000s, behavior of neutrinos emanating from the Sun produced the surprising result that only a third of the expected neutrino flux was being observed, suggesting that the fusion process in the Sun’s ore had already gone out!  Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald solved the mysterious behavior of solar neutrinos by showing that the neutrino actually oscillates between three different versions, the electron neutrino, muon neutrino, and the tau neutrino. What a grand discovery! It finally resulted in their being invited to Stockholm this year, where they were honored on December 10 by the Nobel Foundation (see “Nobel Prize awarded for discovery of neutrino oscillations” in Symmetry, 10/6/2015).

- Spacefoam Search: The first findings of FermiLab’s Holometer has found no evidence of spacefoam, a/k/a ‘virtual particle jitter’ or ‘cosmic jitter’ all the way down to the fantastically small scale of 10-18 meters (note: we talked about the startup of this project in our Accelerator Section Third Quarter 2014 Newsletter). It is at this tiny scale that current models had suggested spacefoam might be detected. Thus, at least one version of the Holographic Theory is not yet proven. This theory posits that everything in our universe is actually a 3-dimensional holographic projection emanating from dynamic information, or ‘strings’, stored in the 2-dimensional ‘shell’ that makes up the outer ‘perimeter’ of the universe. Although the Holometer is a super‑powerful device, spacefoam might still exist but at a scale too small for its current testing capabilities. However, the Holometer’s ultra‑high-frequency-interferometry approach may prove be the best way to resolve scales further down to where quantum jitter may be finally found, and maybe even lower. Setting the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle aside, wouldn’t it be amazing if it could reach all the way down to the theoretically ultimate ‘Planck Length’ of 1.6 x 10-35 meters, where strings themselves are theorized to exist! (see “Holometer rules out first theory of space-time relations”, FermiLab News, 12/3/2015)

A member of the Holometer collaboration works on the sensitive space-time measuring device, located at Fermilab in Illinois.

The Holometer being tended to at FermiLab.

Artist’s depiction of quantum jitter Source: NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory website

- Particle Pasteballs: Researchers in Austria announced in September that they have created a new particle made entirely of gluons. We know gluons as ethereal massless particles that express the nuclear force that holds quarks together to make muons and baryons. What the Austrian scientists believe they have done did was to create a mass particle out of massless ones! If proven true, it will blaze a new path forward in understanding how particles in the Standard Model can interact (see “Scientists Claim That They’ve Found A Particle Which Is Entirely Made of Nuclear Force” in Physics-Astronomy, 10/15/2015).

-  Accelerator “Atrophy”: Well, it’s not really atrophy, but something much better. Accelerators are getting amazingly smaller, which should make them more affordable to site, build, and operate. Imagine how much more research of particle and photon physics could soon be possible in our country and around the world as a result (see “Shrinking the accelerator” in Symmetry, 11/24/2015).


Even more exciting forays are in store via accelerators in the near future, especially in further studies into dark matter and the Higgs boson.


On to 2016!



Elaine Marshall,
Sandia National Laboratories


Lorraine Day,
CAMD Louisiana State University


Past President:

Steve Frey,



Linnea Wahl,


Newsletter Editor:

Patrick Bragg,
Idaho National Laboratory



Don Cossairt (2016), 
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory


Reginald Ronningen (2016), National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory


Matt Quinn (2018)
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

•  Accelerator Section Website

•  HPS Website

From The Secretary/Treasurer:
Linnea Wahl

Have you been wondering what’s new with the Health Physics Society (HPS) Accelerator Section? Well, 14 new HPS members in 2015 is what’s new. This shows that the section has experienced pretty steady growth, at least in the last couple years. As of this time in 2014, the section had gained 15 new HPS members.


Please join me in welcoming our newest members—new in 2015 to HPS and to the Accelerator Section.


Sayer Al-Shammari

Ali Alremeithi

Abdullah Alzahrani

Patrick Barron

Sarah Black

Gregg Devanna

Geoffrey Edwards

Rodney Fletcher

Chrystal Groff

Brad Kreydick

Uday Lanke

William R. Plunkett

Charles Slama

Clayton Struthers


Let’s keep the trend going. If you know of any colleagues who are involved or interested in accelerator health physics, please encourage them to join HPS and the section. You could even win a prize (complimentary meeting registration or a year’s free membership) if you recruit colleagues who are granted full membership. For more information, check out the details in the November issue of Health Physics newsletter ( Note: this contest will end on 29 February 2016.




NSLS (Charles W. Schaefer) (note: pictures following the text)

In May of this year (2015) BNL began the formal decommissioning and deactivation (D&D) of the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS).  Planning commenced in October of 2014 and included several actions that supported the radiological characterization of the facility.  These actions resulted in the development of a Survey and Release Manual to guide the process of surveying materials for unrestricted release and recycling.  These materials included lead shielding, magnet coils, bulk steel components such as magnet supports, and mixed metal wire.  As of early December all of the equipment inside the Linac, Booster Ring and Vacuum Ultraviolet (VUV) Ring have been removed, disassembled and surveyed to segregate the radioactive from the non-radioactive components.  About 95% of all X Ray Ring equipment has also been removed.  Approximately 1.4 million pounds of mixed metal have been recovered and recycled which has returned > $600k to the NSLS D&D Project.


One of the biggest hazards to D&D workers has been potential exposure to lead dust from the more than 500 tons of lead shielding that was used in the accelerators and beam lines.  Approximately 200 swipes were taken from the facility and analyzed.  This showed dispersible lead and cadmium above housekeeping levels to exist in many areas including the ventilation system.  Swipe surveys and analysis that was performed following the removal of beryllium components from the NSLS indicate that the facility is free of beryllium contamination.  Handling activities during routine NSLS operations were believed to cause much of this surface contamination to be re-suspended in the breathing zone.  Therefore, all lead handling and removal work involved the use of respiratory protection to avoid inhaling lead dust, and a limit on the number of lead bricks per hour each worker was allowed to handle in order to avoid injury from over-exertion.  The Project has worked very safely thus far and has not incurred any injuries.


One of the more interesting issues has been the very low percentage of lead bricks that were surveyed and determined to be radioactive.  Most of the NSLS lead shielding was used in the accelerator enclosures to shield known beam loss locations and subject to activation.  All the bricks were surveyed by Radiological Control Technicians prior to removal.  More than 99% were indistinguishable from background using a Micro-R meter or other comparable hand-held instrument.  Through gamma spectroscopy we determined that the lead brick activity consisted of 207Bi (32-year half life) and 194Hg (520-year half life).


Looking forward, the Project expects to complete the material removal phase within the next couple of months and has been planning the next phase, which will involve remediating the dispersible metals throughout the facility, including the HVAC system.  Many beam line experimental hutches and associated experimental equipment will need to be dispositioned in order to facilitate the dispersible metals cleanup, which is necessary for future occupancy and reuse of the facility.


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