Significant cost-savings and operational efficiency may be realised by performing rapid non-destructive classification of radioactive waste at or near its point of retrieval or generation. There is often a need to quickly categorize and segregate bulk containers (drums, crates etc.) into waste streams defined at various boundary levels (based on its radioactive hazard) in order to meet disposal regulations and consignor waste acceptance criteria. Recent improvements in gamma spectroscopy technologies have provided the capability to perform rapid in-situ analysis using portable and hand-held devices such as battery-operated medium and high resolution detectors including lanthanum halide and high purity germanium (HPGe). Instruments and technologies that were previously the domain of complex lab systems are now widely available as touch-screen “off-the-shelf” units. Despite such advances, the task of waste stream screening and segregation remains a complex exercise requiring a detailed understanding of programmatic requirements and, in particular, the capability to ensure data quality when operating in the field. This is particularly so when surveying historical waste drums and crates containing heterogeneous debris of unknown composition. The most widely used portable assay method is based upon far-field High Resolution Gamma Spectroscopy (HRGS) assay using HPGe detectors together with a well engineered deployment cart (such as the PSC TechniCART™ technology). Hand-held Sodium Iodide (NaI) detectors are often also deployed and may also be used to supplement the HPGe measurements in locating hot spots. Portable neutron slab monitors may also be utilised in cases where gamma measurements alone are not suitable. Several case histories are discussed at various sites where this equipment has been used for in-situ characterization of debris waste, sludge, soil, high activity waste, depleted and enriched uranium, heat source and weapons grade plutonium, fission products, activation products, americium, curium and other more exotic nuclides. The process of acquiring and analyzing data together with integration of historical knowledge to resolve and delineate waste streams (for example between low-level waste and transuranic waste) is described.

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