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Aiding Australia groundwater challenges with passive sampling

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) will deploy and asses the performance of a new generation of passive sampler technology used in the UPWATER project. The governmental organization is keen to play a part as associated partner, according to scientist Dioni Cendón: “Australia’s climate and physiographic conditions make the continent an ideal testing ground.”

ANSTO is one of Australia’s largest public research organizations funded by the Australian Government. It is the home of Australia’s nuclear expertise. ANSTO’s Environmental research informs sustainable management strategies and adds to Australia’s capacity to respond to environmental challenges. Addressing environmental challenges is the reason for participating in the UPWATER project.

ANSTO and its expert groundwater team, led by principal research scientist and groundwater expert Dioni Cendón, have a strong track-record, with beneficial knowledge and cutting-edge analytical techniques at their disposal. In their work, they partner up with scientists and engineers to improve human health and protect the environment. During UPWATER, they will work in conjunction with the European partners.

Samplers beneficial for nuclear waste sites

ANSTO will deploy and assess some of the passive sampling methods that will similarly be tested by the UPWATER partners in the three case studies in Europe. The major difference between testing in Europe and Australia is the diverse climate and other soil characteristics.

Additionally, another highly monitored nuclear waste site, near to the city of Sydney, would benefit from UPWATER instrumentalization. New knowledge can help test the capability of samplers to define the transport of contaminants. For the Australian mining industry, development, sound environmental studies and demonstrated technologies are compulsory.

Cendón will coordinate installation and shipment of passive samplers together with the partners from Barcelona. The Barcelona labs and ANSTO know each other through collaborations in other research projects. ‘I will be working a lot with Professor Enric Vàzquez-Suñé from the IDAEA-CSIC, the coordinating party in the Barcelona case study. We are not strangers; we have already had a PhD student from Barcelona over to apply some of ANSTO’s analytical techniques.’

New generation of samplers

“Australia is the driest, inhabited continent’, Cendón said, explaining why his country is an ideal testing ground for innovation in groundwater protection. His country lacks higher altitudes to drive the important flow of groundwater. On top of that, most of the continent is semi or completely arid. ‘Some of our testing sites can not only be challenging to reach but will also demand a high degree of confidence in the samplers”, according to Cendón.

Cendón hopes to collectively test the new generation of passive samplers. This will form a great contribution, according to the scientist, considering the growing need to safeguard invaluable groundwater resources.

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