RESEARCH SCIENTIST, LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY
Environmental concerns pose the biggest challenge for nuclear energy, often preventing the construction of new plants, or the disposal of radioactive waste. There are currently more than a hundred sites in the world at which surface and groundwater have been contaminated by nuclear weapon production or nuclear accidents. Many of those sites remain unused and inhabited, which have been primarily the source of public concern. Developing capabilities to respond, assess and recover from such contamination – environmental resiliency – is critical not only to address existing contamination but also to build public confidence and support for nuclear energy.
This talk introduces recent technical advances to tackle nuclear-related environmental contaminations, including (1) in situ remote monitoring, (2) techniques for non-destructive geophysical imaging and multiscale data integration, (3) data analytics for large spatial and temporal datasets, (4) predictive simulation capabilities of contaminant transport and (5) enhanced natural attenuation remedies. At the Savannah River Site F-Area, where soil and groundwater are contaminated by various radionuclides, these technologies are used to achieve cost-effective remediation and to ensure long-term stability under various disturbances like climate change. In addition, after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, a Bayesian-based data integration method has been used to integrate different types of radiation survey data (e.g., airborne, car-based), providing an integrated map of air dose rates in the regional scale. With the trend of autonomous and advanced monitoring and characterization approaches such as those discussed here, there is significant potential to develop smart early warning and leak detection systems as an integral part of future nuclear facility planning.
Haruko is a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She earned master in nuclear engineering and statistics, and PhD in nuclear engineering at University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on hydrological modeling, spatial statistics, data integration, and uncertainty quantification. She has worked on various research topics in both nuclear engineering and environmental sciences, including nuclear waste, groundwater contamination, surface contamination after the Fukushima accident, climate change impacts on ecosystems, and geological CO2 storage. She has played a key role in many multidisciplinary projects. She is currently leading a project on modeling and data analytics at the Savannah River Site F-Area. She is a recipient of 2016 Director’s Award for Early Scientific Career Achievement at LBNL.